My Chosen Path

Destroying that which impedes the way

I’m giving the reader another biographical entry into the happenings of my life. Consider this an extension of my 2 a.m. gym session., with more intimate reflections and disclosures from the author.

Since my late-night gym session, I’ve encountered death in its various guises and succumbed to quasi-debilitating injuries, the vicissitudes of life that remind one how tenuous it all really is. Yet, I have survived and thankfully recovered. And I often ask myself whether I can still be motivated to improve my health and wellbeing. As I have said, motivation can be derived from rather unlikely places; in the aforementioned post, it was hatred.

Motivation can come in the form of inducements. Sometimes, it comes in the form of supportive gestures. I have also been moved to action by speeches given by people I admire, and by music lyrics that resonated with something deep inside. More recently, I require fierce pushes from a friend—to whom I am eternally indebted—to help me control my negligent eating habits and to have something resembling a consistent workout schedule. Alas, this lack of endogenous drive for self-betterment has inexorably had some startling health implications. Which leads me to the final motivator—or impetus to immediate action—I wish to talk about, the one that comes into sharp relief when in close proximity to oblivion.

My primary care physician has assured me that my intemperate attitude towards food and drink have threatened to undermine several organ systems, namely my kidneys and liver.

I undoubtedly lack some internal self-disciplinary mechanism that keeps normal individuals consistent and focused on reaching their goals. Perhaps I’m missing the requisite allele for proper portion control or my brain chemistry doesn’t permit prolonged commitments to self-improvement. (I tend to be highly motivated in three-week bursts, imposing strict dietary constraints on myself and adhering to an even more rigid gym attendance.) Maybe these are just more excuses, attempts to sidestep accepting full responsibility for my actions (or inactions). Until quite recently, I found myself coming up with all the predictable and stale responses to avoid working too hard, to avoid sweating too much, to avoid going too far out of my comfort zone. That shit requires energy… and fortitude and resilience and determination. Do I have any of those things?

As a result, I truly don’t know how far I can physically push myself before my meat carapace yields. I don’t know my true potential. After my doctor broke the news to me, entreating me to abandon my bacchanalian lifestyle before I reached the point of no return, I lapsed into a dreadful session of self-sabotaging thoughts. We all slip deep into the recesses of our consciousnesses to debate and fight ourselves and lament certain things we regret doing. Some of my thoughts are merciless salvos whose only victim is I; that’s how it was when I departed the doctor’s office. I focused on the imminent deterioration of my organs, the hardships I would have to endure, the complacency—and, frankly, the laziness—that had precipitated these circumstances.

And then I stopped.

My thoughts were betraying me, proceeding as though I had been defeated. The termites of self-destruction had dined long and well on my self-esteem. I was focusing on all the wrong things. During my most recent three-week burst (it was admittedly longer), my knee had sufficiently healed to make cardiovascular exercise a viable option. I have, at the behest of my friend, increased my walking speed and improved my times, noteworthy and tangible progress. (Isn’t that what we all want?) I even received an unsolicited compliment from a coworker who had noticed I was less voluminous. Some of my work had started to pay off!

More importantly, I realized my mind, despite its willingness to periodically drag me through cerebral hell, had developed a defense mechanism for pernicious trains of thought. Don’t worry, brain. Allow me to assist:

Fuck those self-sabotaging thoughts! And… those termites, too! 

I’m neither infirm nor in extremis (nor in close proximity to oblivion for that matter). I can reverse the abuse and damage done to my body. When I set out on the journey to improve my life, I acknowledged that setbacks were temporary. But I must be willing to accept the possibility of future injuries, of grueling workouts with overwhelming perspiration and excruciating diaphragmatic spasms as I gasp for air. I must visualize my goals and turn my words (and thoughts) into unstoppable determination. I have to do it, as I have been, for moi-même, to become the architect of my own fate. I’ve equipped myself with knowledge and I’ve approached myself—and the flaws requiring remediation—honestly. Now, more than ever, it’s time to act.

The Lamentations of 2016

“Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud, Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

As if 2016 weren’t finished with me yet, infirmity comes to me with some ironic leniency: I only suffer from severe sinus congestion. The situational irony is made a little more distressing because infirmity seldom visits me.

Nevertheless, these are the kinds of lamentations one finds circulating social media, becoming more thunderous as we approach the final moments of 2016. Undoubtedly, 2016 has been unique, beset with celebrity deaths, a contentious election cycle, and vehement political protestations. Let’s not forget that crime, corruption, war, famine, disease (infectious and otherwise), racism, gender and sexual discrimination, and myriad other tribulations could not be averted, pacified, or eradicated this year. Not to mention, the scourge of turkey bacon and non-alcoholic beer still persists.

2016 sucks. Or does it?

Could this be one’s most difficult year lived? Perhaps. Could it get worse? Unfortunately, it is possible; it is also possible that one’s fortunes could only get better. Or is everyone just exaggerating their woes? These are intended as reflective prompts, for I cannot possibly answer these questions for the reader. Plaintive cries about how terrible this year was are only slightly lost on me, and not for lack of empathy; my mouth was certainly agape at some of the events that transpired this year. In particular, I acutely feel—and have felt—the sorrow and heartache of friends and family that have suffered great loss.

I, too, have lost. I have faltered. I have struggled. I have been mocked. I have been injured. But I have not quit. I continue resolute.

And perhaps this is the coda to my post. Mewling is only as useful as one’s capacity to reflect and learn from adversity. Grief is important and should not be stifled; the same is true of finding an outlet for one’s anger. But grief—and venting anger—differs greatly from bitching and moaning, lamenting that the world or the universe has conspired to make one miserable. Such thinking serves solely to hold us back from thoughtfully and constructively engaging the future. Trust me, I know.

2016 didn’t suck. It certainly had its terrible moments. However, this year is adorned with accomplishments, triumphs, and joy. I know people who proposed marriage to their partners and lovers. People who married, started new careers, became homeowners, became parents. To those who have suffered greatly this year, shed the frayed tatters of melancholy, for silver linings are often found in the darkest caverns. It takes hardship and strife to learn one’s constitution, to ascertain one’s true friends, to realize that setbacks are temporary.

Wiser and stronger—at least, I hope we are—than our former selves, bearing the scars of winters passed, let us enter 2017 with a little more hope. Let us enter with more strength. More courage. We can mourn our dead but still slog forward; the fallen have taught us much about life, but those lessons cannot be for naught. We are the architects of our own futures, and we, therefore, have the responsibility to rise from the debris, bandage our wounds, and rebuild ourselves. Our goals. Our dreams. Our lives. The gloom was certainly dark and heavy. But we must set our sights towards the horizon, for the sun yet rises.

One Way to Look at Life

Life is the evolution of the self, wherein one travels and communes with others so that we may better understand ourselves. We are deeply affected by all our experiences, inexorably changing to adapt to the pandemonium we call of life. All experiences leave marks some more visible than others.

The favorable kinds are happily subsumed by every cell, every tissue, and every organ. As a result, the heart beats with conviction, the brain bathes in its rich lessons, while the mind is left to soar beyond the confines of infinity.

The unfavorable kinds gouge deep wounds which stifle the breath, dim the soul, and narrow the vision. However, life has conferred upon us the capacity for regeneration whereby our deep wounds heal and only scars remain. But the wearer, now healed and learned, bearing the scars of one’s own painful origins may once again take great breaths and rekindle the flames of their heart in order that they confront the future head-on.