I swim, I read, I write

Yesterday, I finished reading The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. It has been a really long time since I finished reading a book from cover to cover, and this is my second reading of this particular book. In The War of Art, Pressfield speaks about resistance – a powerful force that prevents us from chasing our dreams. Actually, not only does it prevent us, it sabotages and deludes us. My dream is to be a writer, to express myself through the written word, and for 28 years, actually less when you think about it, I have told myself that that’s what I am despite not actually writing at all. 

Months would go by, and the pages would stay blank. Nothing productive would come despite having bursts of inspiration. I have a collection of half-written songs, stories never finished, and dialogues that lead nowhere. I wonder what could be if I continue to dedicate myself to writing daily, to simply showing up where I have to be, at a given time, on a consistent basis. 

The things that I am scared of facing right now, I call them the truth. Either I do want to be an officer in the Navy, or I don’t. If I do, then I have to write a motivational statement. I have to express why I want to be a leader in the Navy, what I can offer as a leader in the Navy, who I will become. My leading bargaining chip is consistency – every day I wake up at 0430 and I am at the gym at 0500. I work out with calisthenics, then I swim. I shower at the gym, and then I get ready for my day. Every day, without fail, I sit down to write. I write down my thoughts, my plans, my visions, my strategy. At the end of each week, I grade myself and make course adjustments. By learning to manage my life, I learn how to direct my circumstances and take command of my legacy. I set aside 1 hour to read. There could hardly be anything more valuable than making yourself smarter. 

Those are my three things. I swim, I read, I write. I build my entire life around these three activities, and I self-reflect to cultivate the all-important self-awareness. My life has shifted toward the side of routine and discipline, in there I have found freedom. 

People think that you lose a lot when you become disciplined. Where is all the fun in your life? Why do you do all of the things you do? The fun begins when you reach a level of consistency with your habits that is sustainable. It begins when you cut off the things you think you love, and you commit to the things you know you love – that you’ve avoided because they are too difficult, or it seems impossible to begin. 

So, resistance has kept me from writing all of these years, and I feel like I finally passed it. Some days, I feel like I’m taking off in the race, creating a gap between resistance and I that it will struggle so hard to overcome. But the truth is, that gap can close in a second. The minute I become comfortable with where I am, with what I have accomplished, resistance will strike. So it is actually very uncomfortable to write every day, to read every day, to try and make it to every swim session. Because I know I’ll miss one eventually, and if I miss two, or three, it will be so hard to bounce back. Resistance is that powerful. I can never underestimate it’s power. 

My life is in Gulfport now. I can’t say I ever saw this coming, but I am embracing it and feeling very present here. Aside from the aforementioned activities, I like to sit and think – oh, and don’t think for a second that I am actually that consistent. Every day means like 3-4 days out of the week. But I strive to be consistent like an archer who can’t miss the bulls eye. 

A tangent – here is something that I noticed, that if you’re inconsistent in your habits, it will show up in every thing else. When you shoot your weapon during weapons qualifications, you miss one or two shots. When you take your exams during classes, you miss one or two questions. When you go for a swim, you miss-time a turn, you breathe a little awkwardly, you leave a tad early, a second late. Consistency, like everything else, takes practice. It takes, more than anything, showing up. 

Back to what I was expressing, I like to sit and think. This is called meditation, but sometimes I watch my thoughts flow and they’re truly wild. One minute I am having thoughts of insecurity. Why is it so hard to trust people? Why do I doubt intentions? What are they doing now? Are they thinking of me? Do they care about me? I have so many thoughts and wonders about so many things that truly do not matter. Then I am future-planning. At the gym, I’m going to squat to day. Later on, I want to get a second swim session, I have to mail Andy’s letter, I have to call Allyson, I have to get dressed to go to work, I have to clean my room, I have to hang my towel and swim shorts to dry. It is hard to be present when there is so much activity in my mind. 

So, by sitting and thinking, I can watch my monkey brain do all of its running around and tossing around and jumping around until it falls on its head. Then he cries for a little while. Then he’s calm and quiet, and I am back to the present. So I sit, and I think, and I wait a little while. Then I am ready, and I move. Being patient takes resolve. It takes practice. But you only get better over time. 

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