I have none.
If not none, then little, so diminutive as to suggest none. I have the desire for discipline, but how often does desire give us what we need, or even what we want? I think perhaps it gives us what we think we want, even to the extent that it gives us what we think we ought to want. And ought is one letter removed from nought. Which is to say, nothing. Two letters removed from naught, which is to be without result or fruition. We oughtn’t want naught. It’s frustratingly fruitionless! Where am I going with this?
Ah yes, it could be that I’m stumbling into the realm of why I have no discipline. I have a very hard time keeping my brain, my captain smartypants brain on one track at one time. I have a tendency to allow it to wander like a dog without a leash. It could be argued that a dog without a leash is a happy dog, but happy dogs are just as likely to wander into the street and get themselves a good smuckin.
Every day I think, today is the day I acquire discipline. I will wake up, I will exercise, I will go to work. Even just there I have problems for some reason. It’s only 2 hours into my day and already it’s an uphill battle. I set the alarm and turn off the light and fall asleep and the alarm goes off and I smack it and fall back asleep, waking again 10 minutes before I have to be at work. It’s a common enough scenario. I’ve been justifying it in various ways for years. ‘I don’t function as well in the morning.’ ‘If I felt more passionate about the work I would get up excited about it.’ ‘I’m not so out of shape that I need to exercise every morning.’ All of these start with a negative thought. I’m not- What about all the things that I am? There’s no self-love here, there’s only indulgence. ‘Sleep in, you deserve it.’ ‘You exercised two days ago, you deserve to sit around and play video games instead of doing something productive.’
I truly don’t think that I’m lazy. If there’s something that has to be done, I’ll do it. I’ll even do it well. But if it doesn’t need to be done, I have no problem letting it go and spending 3 hours surfing the internet, researching all the different types of martial arts (for example) insisting to myself that one day I’m going to start taking aikido and then I’ll learn some discipline. They teach you that right? At the same time as teaching how to redirect opponents energy with cool flips and joint locks. It’s as though I give myself permission to not have discipline because that’s obviously something you learn from someone else.
I try to brush my teeth every day. Those of you who have known me a while, know that for years I had the shittiest smile ever. I was like an english hockey player. Some were missing, some were chipped, some had rot so bad that people would constantly tell me while pointing, “you’ve got a little something here..” Yeah, I know. And I worked and saved money and got them fixed. I appreciate having a nice smile because I know what it’s like to not have that. From the age of about 17 through 31 almost every picture of me is all grin, no teeth. You would think that awareness of something would encourage daily care. Sort of how someone who suffered (and I mean suffered) with harsh asthma all through puberty would know how awful it feels to have trouble breathing and would never even consider smoking, much less do it for 16 years! I brush my teeth almost every day. Some days, I’m already in bed when I remember and there’s a hmmm…get up…do it…rarely do I listen to this inner voice. Is that lazy? Flossing is even worse. I start to floss, I do maybe 3 teeth and begin to think about what I’m going to do next, to the degree that sometimes I’ll have put the floss in the garbage and be wandering away before I’m called back to the present. And my lack of presence in it.
Is learning aikido really going to afford me the type of discipline that will allow for daily brushing?
Then there’s that vicious self dressing down that happens. It’s not in the realm of you suck, you’re not good enough. I’ve been far removed from that place since my early 20’s. It’s worse somehow because it’s a kind of quiet acceptance. “Well, this is just the way we are. Not self-governed enough to do what’s right. We fall back into the habits of doing what’s comfortable, even when it doesn’t actually afford comfort. What did you expect? You have no discipline.” “Ouch, self! Come on! It’s not that bad!” “Ok, so instead of turning on the video game or watching a movie, why don’t you spend that 2 hours playing the piano?” “Fine! I’ll show you! I’ll sit here and I’ll play the piano! I’ll learn all those songs I’ve had the sheet music to for such a long time and haven’t learned yet! I’ll be awesome!”
20 minutes is my average time to sit down and play the piano.
3 hours is my average time to sit down and play video games.
Self love is not the desire to do good things for yourself, it’s the action of doing them. I find myself giving into the instantaneous, the quick fix and it’s starting to get old. If I’m not lazy then what hinders me from the pleasures that require work? Do I get as much satisfaction from finishing Fallout 3 on the highest difficulty setting (those supermutants are nearly impossible to kill!!!) as I do when I learn a piece on the piano completely so that I’ll never have to use the sheet music again? Hell no. So, if I know that, if I am acutely aware of how awesome it is to make beautiful music with my 9 1/2 fingers, what stops me? Am I lazy?
All right, here’s an experiment. I leave for Costa Rica in exactly 14 days. 2 weeks. Every day I will exercise for 45 minutes, play the piano for 45 minutes and write something. 2 weeks. How hard can that be? I’m a little nervous, not just because when I started to type an hour for each activity and the little voice said, what about 45 minutes? That’s not bad, is it? I’m nervous because I’ve done this kind of thing before and typically I last about 3 days, the I inevitably give over to ‘you’ve been doing so well! Why not take today off and spend a few hours doing meaningless things like importing a picture and giving yourself a hair makeover on one of those makeover sites? Or playing video games? Or organizing your music folder into artists by country? By decade? By genre? Don’t laugh, I do that now and again, it gets kind of manic.
Ok, 2 weeks.
45 minutes of daily exercise, which can include hulahooping, poi, weights, yoga, treadmill, dancing in the kitchen, etc. Apparently it’s better for one’s metabolism if the exercise happens in the morning, but I’m not going to place that restriction on myself. As long as it happens at some point over the course of the day, I’m okay with it.
45 minutes of daily piano playing, half an hour of which must involve practicing something I have yet to learn. (I tend to play the things I know really well and feel greatly accomplished regardless of the fact that I learned the piece when I was 11.)
2 weeks. Daily updates so that I am accountable not just to myself. If I dictate that writing about it here is one of the requisites, it will be instantly obvious when I slip, and how embarassing is it to slip in front of others? You flail in private, no harm done (unless there’s a coffee table and a head wound in the mix). Flail in front of your friends and loved ones, become known as the flailer. And who wants that?
The exercise thing, by the way, is not just about looking awesome in a bikini on a beach in Costa Rica, though there’s that. I know that 2 weeks won’t get me to looking akin to Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, but it’s a start, certianly. However, I’ve wanted to learn to surf since I was 8 (Hawaii, 1984. Broken arm 3 days before the trip began. No surf monkey action.) and the better shape I’m in before I get there, the steeper the learning curve will be. I hope.
Hey, I just realized that I planned to head to Mexico last January to learn to surf and I tore my thumb off in November, so couldn’t. It was my left thumb, thankfully because I’m right handed. When I broke my arm 3 days before we left for Hawaii when I was 8, it was my left arm (which sucked because they sent me with homework because I’m right handed). Hmmm…ok, I’m not going to read too much into that because it might get sinister….