“I’m a man. But I can change. If I have to. I guess.”Red Green – “The Man’s Prayer”
I’ve been thinking about the power of those few words. Creator Steve Smith’s alter-ego Red Green lived this, and so many other pithy bits of wisdom throughout 300 episodes.
If you aren’t familiar, Red Green was a television show that ran for twenty-five years and spanned three hundred episodes. You can check it out here – RedGreenTV on Youtube. Subscribe to something heartwarming for a change.
Red is a homespun, no-nonsense, bearded Canuck. If you could imagine the bedside manner of the best grandpa, the engineering skills of MacGuyver, and the humor of a twelve year-old, you’d be close. Add some suspenders and a fedora, and the ensemble is complete.
Why have my thoughts been on Red Green?
I’m working on a project, something very unfamiliar to me. Designing a course for others on how to create lifelong rituals for achieving their goals and living fulfilled.
Should it be with an outlandish story, or a vulnerable admission? How do I connect with you so you can feel what I’m feeling – that anyone who follows this course will be glad they did.
I’ve been stuck – not even starting – for fear of starting in the wrong place. I’ve come to the realization that where is not important. Nor is how.
What’s important is believing change is possible.
Many people are stuck thinking they can’t change. They’ve given up hope.
I can’t talk to women, I’ll never find love.
Every time I try to lose weight, I fail.
Every time I clean my room, or my house, or my truck – it just gets dirty again.
These are dangerous thoughts to have, because they present a paradox.
They are completely right. And they are entirely wrong.
How can this be true?
Let’s think about the weight situation, which is relatable because a majority of Americans are overweight/obese.
We all know being fat is unhealthy. Lower and shorter quality of life. Embarrassing situations. Difficulty finding clothes.
We all know the solution: Eat healthy & exercise. Do both consistently & frequently.
That’ s it. Don’t eat trash & move your body, everyday. Do that and you’ll lower your risk of diabetes, cancer, coronary disease, and a host of other ailments. You’ll be happier, more confident, you’ll feel powerful and strong. You’ll sleep better and have less anxiety.
So why is it so few people can do it?
Because we are all just a little bit crazy. Insane in the membrane.
Not axing-bathroom-doors insane…but something even just as evil in it’s manifestations.
This type of insanity tortures you…every second of every day, for your life.
It doesn’t kill you. It keeps you from saving yourself.
It’s not that diets don’t work for you – you just didn’t follow the diet.
The workout plan was fine – you just didn’t do it.
Maybe you did it twice…or even five times. Maybe you even stuck with it for a few weeks. But it was hard and sweaty and everybody else there was more advanced and you just felt…hopeless.
What about dating? That string of failed relationships has a common variable – you! Crazy fish bite crazy bait – what kind of worm are you wiggling?
It’s not because you’re insane. It’s because you don’t believe.
You don’t believe you could lose a hundred pounds, or get a job that pays twice as much. You don’t believe you can find someone to love you, or keep a clean house.
So you become a spectator in the game of life. Maybe you grew up feeling you like a star, and you’ve forgotten how to shine. Maybe your youth was a struggle – to be seen, heard, supported – and you and being invisible is so familiar you think it’s where you belong.
Change begins with belief, and belief begins when you admit something to yourself.
You admit to yourself you aren’t lazy, or sad, or traumatized. You aren’t broken or unlucky. You aren’t cursed.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
– probably not Albert Einstein
You’re just a bit insane, because you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
But the thing works for other people. Diet, exercise, effortful relationships, career growth.
So the thing works. It just doesn’t work for you.
Or is that bullshit too? Doesn’t that smell a bit…off? Have you ever been amused watching someone try something for the first time you know how to do?
For me, I’ve never been able to understand people who can’t throw a baseball.
In this video, you see people doing something very simple – throwing a baseball from the pitcher’s mound to home plate – and failing miserably.
It’s worthwhile to take note Michael Jordan is arguably one of the best athletes in history – and he PLAYED PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL! His was awful. Nolan Ryan is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher – for baseball! He’s in the Hall of Fame for literally being one of the best ever to do the thing you just watched him do so poorly.
So, what the hell? Why is that? Why do these folks with incredible gifts fail to look incredible doing this seemingly-simple task?
Wait then…does that mean walking across fire is easy? If anyone can do it, and do it well, and do it well on the first try…how hard can it be? Well…yeah. Kinda.
The point of skydiving and fire-walking and big dreams isn’t to make you a crazy adventurer. It’s not to show you that impossible things are possible.
It’s to redefine impossible to mean something different.
Because if you can do the impossible…well, we’ve got to call that something different, right?
Impossible is just something you have yet to believe. It’s something you have yet to try enough to de-mystify and understand.
And if you thought it was impossible and then you find out you were wrong…well, now we’re coming closer to the issue.
Why didn’t you believe that thing you now, after trying in ONCE, know to be true?
Could it be that you aren’t a very good judge of your ability?
Could it be that you’ve been underestimating yourself by overestimating what you “know”?
You’re lying to yourself. But don’t worry, you’re in good company.
“A basic truth of the human condition – everybody lies. The only variable is about what. The great thing about telling someone they’re dying is it tends to focus their priorities. You find out what matters to them. What they’re willing to die for.“Dr. Gregory House – “House, M.D.”
Some also live.
“Most men and women die intellectually at 25, but are not buried until 60….Many have big brains but little jobs because they are walking about in their shroud.”G. E. Marchand
You may have heard the first part of that quote before, but it’s unlikely you’ve come across the second line.
“Many have big brains but little jobs because they are walking about in their shroud.”
Ok. I get it. We stop dreaming, learning, growing. We stop living life and start getting through it. Getting by. Struggling.
But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is we know why – “because they are walking about in their shroud.”
What is it shrouding us from?