There’s a great scene in Steinbeck’s “Once There Was A War” where a naval cook wears a weary, discouraged expression, as if realizing that “there is no way to feed a man once and for all.” I love that.
I have a dozen different ways of looking at a story, and with the new book, “Entanglement”, I needed them all. I had to look at the tale from each character’s position. Look at the characters from the neutral perspective of the events, as if researching a newspaper story. Broke the scenes out on 3X5 cards. Covered the wall in Post-It notes. Used outliners, mind-mapping, wrote the novel as a script, condensed it into a 3-minute pitch, a 30-second “elevator pitch”, visualized it as a comic book, and told it backwards from the climax.
None of them worked. All of them worked. Each revealed just a tiny bit of what I’d not seen before. Needed every single one of them.
I have an obsessive compulsion to jigger with my workout routines, have filled notebooks with ideas about kettlebells, clubbells, martial arts drills, yoga, Tibetans, synaptic facilitation, visualizations and freehand drills.
With ruminations on the difference between health and fitness, of how my body and goals have changed over the decades, with the interactions of cardio, strength, agility, flexibility, mobility, balance, immune system strength, reflexes, and perception. What is efficient? What is effective? How must action and recovery be balanced? The illusion, one that I enjoy feeding, is that there is a “perfect” routine out there, and that I will one day discover it. Keeps me emotionally and intellectually engaged with what many consider purely a physical activity.
What is the meaning and method of success? My mother started me on this road by playing 33 ⅓ records of THINK AND GROW RICH, THE STRANGEST SECRET, THE GOLDEN KEY, PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, ACRES OF DIAMONDS and AS A MAN THINKETH. Stuff wormed its way into my heart. But then what is success? Health? Happiness? Love? Money? Fame? Freedom? Balance? Evolution? Spiritual growth? Adulthood? Security..?
And what are the most important roads and methods to achieve it, whatever “it” is? Visualization? Goal setting? Raising energy? Managing emotions? Finding Allies? Modeling behavior? Constant action? Self-love? What are the best methods? What ratios of one to another? What syntax of performance?
If I accept the idea that the core will be found either in some combination of opening the heart and mastering the body, which is more important? How do you recover from the inevitable failures? How to handle temporary successes? What is the “I”, and what is the word the “I” perceives?
All of this can be viewed as infinite complication, or endless fascination. It’s up to you.
What I do know is that every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I awaken and feel my heartbeat, then find my child self and my inner elder. Love that little boy and listen to my inner wisdom. EVERY SINGLE DAY I perform my morning ritual of goal, faith, action (what do I need to do to have a perfect day today?) and gratitude.
EVERY SINGLE DAY I eat I work my body. EVERY SINGLE DAY I write a thousand words, and every other day I polish 25 pages. I also read 10X as much as I write (yesterday, a terrific Hornblower short story. But I’m leaning toward more Mark Twain…)
And every day, I count on it that life will throw everything at me, that if I don’t remind myself who and what I am, and what my life is about and why I give a damn, that I’ll be overwhelmed and bogged down and poisoned by the negativity constantly vomited at you by the media, by your environment, by what you remember of your history. I have to DECIDE to be positive.
And that means that every single day I use everything I’ve learned in six decades of life and research. Leave nothing in “the locker room.” Every day is the Superbowl, and I’m the quarterback, the coach, the audience, and the owner of the team.
I never asked for an easy life: I asked for an authentic one. And all it takes to get everything I need is everything I’ve got.
Every damned day.