Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -- Aristotle

15. Finish the Badwater Ultramarathon.
16. Finish the Norseman Triathlon.
19. Have 100 works published in major media.
28. Bench press 2x bodyweight.
29. Deadlift over 500 lbs.
43. Clean and jerk a 175 lb. (5 pood) kettlebell.
56. Run the Boston Marathon.
71. Receive an invitation to a State Dinner.

Many of my bucket list items cannot be done at the geriatric end of a life. A great many of them require years and years of sustained effort, sacrifice, determination and guts.

That's why it's on my bucket list.

I can't achieve them as I am now. I would have to change. Personally, I would find it an utter tragedy to leave this world barely changed from how I entered it. The change, the drawing forth of effort, the discovery, the growth of courage... these make the goals matter. It's less important that others recognize me than I recognize myself.

If I found a shortcut, if I cheated on a race and lopped off 100 miles or took some substance to enhance my performance, or if publishers suddenly came to me and wanted to take my blog posts and plaster them everywhere, I'd fall into a deep depression. If that actually happened, I'd prefer death than to take them up on their offer. A shortcut would not achieve my goals. That would destroy any possibility of accomplishing them. The real heart of my goals lies in the belief that what I am right now is not what I want to be. To acquire the fruits without the labor would utterly destroy me for the personal, spiritual labor is what I desired the most. The fruits just acknowledge that I invested.

I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to suffer heartache. I already know this. I don't mind those pains. A pain I could not withstand is a loved one telling me "Slow down. You're fine just the way you are." Life is too short to just be fine. Life is too short to just settle for enough. From the moment I was born, I began to move closer and closer to death. I want to hand him an autobiography worth reading when I finally meet him. Slow down? Not fast enough.

Today, I made the realization that this investment has to be made every day. Overly simplistic? Glaringly obvious? Yes. I think so. So obvious that I neglected it until this point. Monday night I went to a concert with a friend. I didn't just lose that night to work and grind, I lost the day after as well as my mind recovered from the music and the late night.

One of the things I discovered in changing my life was to increase happiness, do less of the stuff that makes you kinda feel good and do more of what truly satisfies your soul. I watched a lot of TV as a kid and enjoyed a great number of shows. It was pretty good. I'm not settling for pretty good. I'd like to watch Firefly, the Wire and a whole lot of other shows people have told me about. I have Total Recall from Netflix sitting on my table. These things are pretty good. But they're not really good. How many TV shows was last year's Half-Ironman worth? Innumerable. Does not compute.

It's like trading for baseball players. Giving a team 3 or 4 legitimately good players does not equal having 1 extraordinary player on the caliber of an Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez or A-Rod. The things that are pretty good could never come together and be more than something that's truly great.

The concert was good. I enjoyed spending time with a good friend. But I have begun to realize pretty decent moments will cost me the great life affirming moments if I do not manage my time. There's a good reason I'm fasting gmail, facebook, manga and other social media between 8 and 5 for Lent. I want to demolish my addiction to these time traps. Even determination, the quality and virtue which I've cultivated in myself for years now, cannot grow when distracted. Determination also means focus.

That said, less blogging, more doing.

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