barechested, shoulder-pressing an upside-down, rusty wheelbarrow.
Striding across the farmyard in a windy gale, a spittles of lukewarm moisture crashing dusty deaths like the tears of a kamikaze, nary even a dark spot to mark the remains. It’s beyond dry out here.
Clad in my best pair of professionally-personalized, amatuerly-altered custom jorts, Powercat Purple Nike’s from a housefire in Texas, and a self-inflicted haircut… I was on a mission.
You’ve heard of a “cleansing flow” in yoga?
Let me introduce you to my version of a cleansing flow:
I stuff some earbuds in my earholes, turn on a very long podcast or lecture, and wander (seemingly aimless, but purposeful upon observation) around the farm, picking up this and taking it here, finding this and matching it with the pile of other things, forging chest high weeds to clear obstructions to the mower, etc. If you grew up on a farm or ranch, you can probably relate – you can forget about a lot of things when acres are available upon which for it to be “out of sight, out of mind”.
“Oh, hello Mr. Rusty Shovel Head With No Handle, what are you doing out here, half-buried in the dirt? Your friends have already been seated in Old Grain Bin #4. Fear not, I know the maitre’d…”
The cleansing flow is a fun time, and it’s a great workout, offering multiples disciplines to challenge, such as….
Endurance – Average about 9 miles on the hooves per session
Strength – imagine a strongman competition was run by an idiot. There’s the clean & jerk (truck leaf springs), field events (t-post javelin, the wheel-that-fits-nothing hammer throw),
Combatives – Fighting the head and the wind would be enough, but no…this is real life cock-fighting, where you get attacked by the rooster, who is violent and crafty. I’ve affectionately dubbed him The Dragon Cock, both for his resemblance to his winged, mythical ancestor, and as a double-entendre acknowledgement of his ferocious masculinity.
The problem-solving element is fantastically intriguing as well, as it forces reflection to prioritize tasks. There’s a garden being planted, a lifetime of tools to categorize, sort, and pare down to the varsity and jv, etc.
I’ve chosen to seek a (mostly) mind-numbing, thoughtless, repetitive activity for a reason – to give my brain time to meander through the 1,000 things that need done in order to find the NEXT thing that needs done.
“Long walks” – look through history and find how many of our greatest breakthroughs in human understanding have come while on a walk, or mowing the grass, sitting on the toilet…etc.
Intentionally disconnecting solving problems often leads us to discover the solution. How so?
The meta-phsyical explanation is fascinating, though not immediately accessible to most.
A more familiar explanation sounds like this:
Think about lifting weights to build muscle. The actual weigh-lighting process takes your existing musculature beyond it’s current limits. Micro-tears result, which are healed during rest periods, and gains thou shalt see!
Knowledge work, and creativity, operate in the same fashion.
We stretch our limits with a new challenge – sometimes we even say, of struggling to grasp new or challenging concepts, that it “hurts our brains”.
That’s a good hurt, Young Blood! You’ve got that “Mind Pump” goin on!
And that’s good! Stretching, challenging the mind.
But growth in the brain – call it wisdom or insight, or something else altogether ethereal and incapable of categorization – happens during REST periods.
And during those rest periods, the mind needs to be free. Recess for the brain, no plan, but most importantly – no stimuli.
I used to think I could accomplish this by scrolling social media for a laugh, watching mindless movies and tv shows, until I found overwhelming evidence in the Deep Work/Focus research areas that what our brains actually do in this type of activity is zone out.
The ability to Zone Out is what allows us to do great things. Deep work, planning, foresight, etc. Zoning out can be a good thing – it’s focus.
And we are only capable of so much focus before we need a break.
Ever binge a Netflix series and then think “Man I’m tired…I need a nap.”
So you’ve got a finite amount of time (how finite, you don’t know).
And there are things you want to get done in that time – these are your Life Goals.
And in order to accomplish life goals that change your current situation for the better, you need a plan. Because teleportation isn’t possible, not just across space, but also time. Not just for objects, but for ideas.
Davinci didn’t invent the flying machine. He had an idea for it, but did not accomplish it.
Were it his number one priority, is there any doubt he could have?
But no, he was busy fooling around with Alchemy (because even then, just like now, the people who controlled the money wanted to figure out how to make more of it without exchange work for it), art, math, blah blah…you know, what a good polymath does.
And that’s fine, because with good ideas – someone else will get to it.
Someone else will solve that problem.
And that’s fine, with inventions.
Is it “fine” with your life”
Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t trying to nail down what dark matter is, or advance string theory, or work on alternative sources of renewable energy.
Most of us are just trying to find space in our life to do something that’ll bring us joy.
We have the desire, we just need the “how”.
There are hundreds of techniques, far too many to discuss here, and far too varied to be a general recommendation suitable for an article such as this.
Here is a very simple place to start, by answering these three questions:
- What improvement in my life would bring joy?
- What am I willing to change in order to make this improvement?
- If I am not willing to make this change now, how much WORSE will I let this get before I do?
It’s the last question that is the most important.
Want to lose a few pounds but not ready to “commit”?
Want a better relationship but you’re still convinced it’s the other person’s job to change?
That’s OK! It really is, but set a constraint.
“Once I’ve gained xx lbs, or my favorite jeans don’t fit, or I can’t breath after walking up a flight of stairs. Once I go two months without telling this person I love that I love them, I’ll reach out and try to repair the relationship if I still see value in it in the future.”
Whatever metric you choose to use, just make it a small improvement. Nobody goes from knowing the names of the Wendy’s late-night drive thru crew to being in the Crossfit Games.
Want to get up 15 min earlier? Want to have more time to read? Want to finish a puzzle, or painting, or woodworking project?
Identify what looks like success, make a plan for how to get there, and also set yourself a lower limit, a constraint. Knowing how to recognize failure and correctly design a plan to correct it may be more important than knowing how to recognize success. Why?
People get fame and fortune, and then turn to humbling themselves so it doesn’t go to their head.
We need to treat failure the same – don’t let it go to your head. Failure is feedback. If you didn’t get what you want, there’s a reason, and you are likely in control of it.
So here my failure for the day:
I made it to the junk pile with the wheelbarrow, step by challenging step. I planned the path in advance, doing my best to avoid The Dragon Cock while minimizing the distance, and chucked that rusty bucket over the fence and onto the pile like an iron feather.
Standing there, looking like a hillbilly Spartan, I should have felt accomplished.
Then realized it wasn’t junk.
Just a flat tire…rusty, yes, but still worth keeping.
So I drug it out, and in doing so, as I gingerly lowered it back over the fence, I was now looking at it from above, upside down, a perspective I hadn’t seen before.
From that vantage point, I realized something….
Those weird, curvy legs kinda looked like shoulder straps.
That flat tire kinda looked like a pad.
The frame around the tire looked you could hang it.
And my custom jorts have very thick belt loops.
And I realized, I’d done this before.
Now, it says something about the life I’ve lived that, on more than one occasion, I’ve had cause to CARRY an inoperable wheelbarrow. Apparently I’ve done it enough times that I found a way to do it better, and in that instant I remembered!
Arms hooked through the legs, flat tired gently resting on my butt, wheel-frame tenderly hooked on my belt loop, and off we went.
“Reginald? Yes, me again. I’ve got a late addition to Bin #4, can you squeeze in a single? Thanks, you’re the best!”
Give your dreams the gift of doing nothing.
One of the things I’m doing is using Optavia products – I save money because it costs less than what I was eating before, I save time because there is essentially no prep, and I save mental bandwith b/c I no longer have to choose what to eat.
It has had a great affect on my body, mind, and bank account.
If you are interested, or if you just want someone to tell your dream too, please send me a message at [email protected].
I’m excited for you to be as excited to be you as I am to be me 🙂