I stepped on the scale today: 188.4lbs, a new record for personal mass. I showered today, too, for the first time in 11 days. My facial hair and fingernails are growing long. My van is disorganized. I say: LET ‘EM GO.
I’ve heard of someone “letting themself go.” It typically means, “This person used to be attractive. Now they’re fat.”
I could hit 200lbs. Perhaps I will.
Is this what happens when I release myself? When I live without restrictions? Instead of eating strict carnivore or low carb, it’s ice cream and pizza and…, oh my!
I could be a bigger man. Right now I’m just a bigger man.
I worry. I don’t want to fall into a hole I can’t get out of. I don’t think I’m there yet though. And I’m enjoying digging.
My dog peed on my bed. Twice. Once was after our first vet visit. I didn’t immediately take her to pee. That’s obviously stressful for a dog. I take the blame. The second was tonight, after I returned from a therapy appointment. She waited to pee until I returned. Good doggy. I drove to Walgreens to buy nailclippers, before finding us a parking spot and carrying her to my bed. That’s when she peed.
Did she whimper at me just after I parked? Did she struggle when I carried her to the bed? Was she indicating her pee-ful-ness? In short, is it my fault?
It must be. Or, at least, my responsibility. When did she last pee? Around 7pm. It’s now 11. Is that too long? How long between pees? How does dog pee work? Halp me google: HOW WORK DOG PEE?
We haven’t established pee-based communication. I don’t have a solid read on her piddle-timing. I lack a feel for her whimpers.
Experts say to avoid punishing dogs. Reward desirable behaviors; punishments don’t help. I shall implement this. It’s nice to know the ethics and psychology align.
I would more effectively learn to take her outside if she rewarded me when I succeeded–via a treat of some kind, say–instead of punishing me–via bed pees–when I don’t.
(Post-script addendum: It’s now nearly 1am. I’m so glad to have a cuddlebuddy. All is forgiven. We’ll do better next time.)
There’s a Jewish summer camp for adults. That sounds so fun. I get a scholarship because I volunteer with a Jewish youth group. The scholarship required an application. One question asked about my favorite Jewish teaching. This is what I wrote:
As a child in Hebrew school, I was the troublemaker. The kid who wouldn’t sit still, whose desk was separated from others by a distance just longer than his arms. Only on one day did I stop making trouble:
I had been scooting around the classroom on my belly when my teacher scratched the side of his nose, our signal for “You’re goofing off, Julian. Stop it.” I ignored it. He signaled for a second time. I ignored it again, because “What’s he gonna do?” Then, he began the story of The Golden Calf. I stopped scooting. I knew this one was going to matter the moment he began. See, The Golden Calf is about worship. It’s about how easy it is to make things sacred. It goes something like this:
“Once upon a time God gave Laws. The first one was “I’m God and that’s it.” Then, Moses, God’s go-between leaves his people alone for TEN MINUTES and they make this statue of a cow, made out of gold. And they were dancing and praying, saying it was their God. Moses got pissed and smashed it.”
Now, why does this matter? What can you learn?
- You’re going to worship. A man locked in prison worships the sunrise he sees through the bars. Deprived of all your senses, you’ll still worship. Consciously choose what you worship, because you’ll act like it’s all that matters.
- Physical objects are easily broken, so don’t make them into Gods. This one sounds obvious, but actually drove human history for a while. Did you know one reason Jews were successful was that they didn’t have physical Gods? If your God was a lump of wood or a rock or a statue, invaders could storm in, steal it, and subjugate your people easily… because they literally have your God! But the Jewish God wasn’t represented in idols. Also probably a good analogy for life: if you worship material goods (or money, say), you’ll be crushed whenever they’re broken. Worship ideals, however, like Honesty, Truth, Love, or Honor, and you’ll be much more resolute.
- It’s easy to build Gods, even accidentally. A friend gifted me an obsidian stone a few months ago. I jokingly began referring to it as “Birdbrain, creator of the universe.” After a while, I noticed I started treating the rock with more respect. I began keeping it safe. Watch out for what you worship, because it’s easy to worship the wrong things. In this case, a stone. Stones are easy to stop worshipping. Hedonism? Codependence? Those are tough worships to drop.
Making the self suffer is a cornerstone of many successful philosophies:
I was prompted to consider this strategy by Conan O’Brien on his podcast with Stephen Colbert. Both Catholics, they described intentionally putting themselves through strife. “I did hairshirt behavior,” Colbert says (34:37).
Conan (36:27): “This is pain… where any normal person would tell you, any therapist would say, ‘This suffering is unnecessary. You achieved nothing with this suffering.”… I put myself through a lot of torture. And here’s the crazy thing: what happens when you do that and then magical things start to happen for you? You can’t see me because it’s a podcast, but Stephen just pointed his finger at me as if to say, ‘You nailed it.’”
Stephen, a few lines later: “It works.”
Conan: “What I hate, I hate… I hate thait it fucking works.”
Stephen: “And the magical thinking magically thinks that magical thinking worked.”
Conan: “It’s the biggest fight I’ve had over the last five years with therapists and friends.” … “Therapists have said, ‘You don’t need the suffering.’ and I 80% believe them and I’m 20% like, ‘what the fuck do you know?'”
Is making yourself suffer a strategy for improving? Does it work? Comments greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Dad, for an incredible day. More connected with you than I’ve felt in memory. Your stories that weaved from place to place—about which I sometimes ask, “what was the point?”—today, the sharing was the point. Maybe that’s always true.
Am I focusing on the present because I’m having intensive surgery on Monday?
Right now, I’m afraid. Not of death, but life:
- What if improving my breathing isn’t miraculous?
- What if I fail?
- What if I die?
Death I can deal with. It’s failure that’s unacceptable.
I’m donating my tomorrow to high school kids. Teaching, mentoring, engrossed in giving.
When I could die at any moment, why do I hop stepping stones?
- “But Kid, the best stepping-stones are rock and their own right.”
I didn’t think about any of that today. Just talked with you, Dad. And I loved it.