Last night, my wife looked at me and asked me point blank, “Why are you doing this?”
I had to think about that for a second. I know what I’ve said before about why I am taking this challenge upon myself: I want to push myself, I want to be better, I want to remain motivated, yada yada yada. But that wasn’t her question. Her question was why am I doing this physically, mentally, spiritually and personally, all at once? Why push myself in so many directions? Why not focus on one aspect or focus in one direction?
Why, indeed, am I doing it all at once?
Hold on, let’s pause. I need to gather my thoughts on this one…
(Now that I spent 5 minutes making a spiced apple cider to accompany this slice of Thin Mint Pie -healthy!- I’ll continue).
“He who is an athlete only is too crude, too vulgar. He who is a scholar only is too soft. The ideal citizen is the scholar athlete, a person of thought and a person of action.”
I have my college football head coach to thank for turning me on to that quote. Coach Pole may have been quoting the philosopher as a means to implore us to go to class, but knowing the kind of man he was, he was also pushing us to think a little deeper. What exactly was Plato talking about?
Was Plato decrying either athletes or scholars? I don’t think so. I think he was instead exhorting his fellow men to do it all. Plato was describing the jack-of-all-trades, master of none. He’s stating that you don’t have to be oxen-strong to succeed, or be grandmaster-smart to make it. He was preaching balance. I think it’s something that is dreadfully missing in our society today. America has become a service driven economy, where you are only as good as your best skill, and that’s what you earn your money for. As a result we are a society of individuals who, if thrown to the figurative wolves, couldn’t survive because we’ve honed our skills with rarely more than one or two focuses. Unfortunately, in keeping up with the Joneses, we lose sight of a balanced life.
I didn’t want to be like this. Yes, I have my skills for which I am rewarded in my business, but I am NOT my job. To hearken back to a movie I posted a few quotes from two days ago –
Chuck Palahniuk’s Tyler Durden is uncouth, uncensored, agnostic and nihilistic, but he’s also right in so many ways. The only thing that defines me is me. I can choose to let myself deny that and become defined by my job, my income, my neighborhood, car, family, or any other of myriad things that could define me. Or, I can choose to define myself.
I choose to define me.
Plato said it: scholar and athlete, thought and action. This is why I choose to do it all. Because I can. I want to be stronger, faster, fitter, and look better for my wife. And I can. I want to be more well-read, hopefully understand things better and increase my knowledge. And I can. I want to have more skills that I can draw upon if and when I need to. And I can. I want to know my God better, love my family better, show my friends that I care more, and improve myself for future opportunities. And I can. I want to have more memories, look back with more fondness, and realize a better future as a man. AND I WILL.
So why am I doing this? Because I want to.
Quick Goal Updates: I finished Captivating two nights ago, and have begun Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I ran another 1.5 miles today on the treadmill (because it’s freaking -14F outside!) and did a light, and I mean very light, yoga workout tonight after putting the kids to bed, before eating the aforementioned pie. Between my wife and I, we’ve been identifying a lot of birds at the backyard feeders; we’re up to 7 different types that visit us regularly. I’m already sketching out a new feeder I want to build to entice jays and orioles. I can’t remember if I said this already, but my friend Jon and I have already picked out the 14’er we’ll be climbing this summer: Mt Bierstadt in Colorado. I
lost temporarily misplaced the devotional book my wife got me for Christmas, so I have been reading a different devotional online every day.
I’ve begun linking up to blogs and sites that I like to check for motivation, insight and inspiration. If you’re a guy reading this, chances are you might like this site: The Art of Manliness. It’s a great site for out-of-the-ordinary ideas and lost skill sets, all done rather humorously and easy-to-read.
As for me? This is my part of the journey. I would love to hear about what is driving and motivating you. We’re starting to creep up in numbers, so let’s keep up the good work and motivate each other.