Sunday, May 13, 2007

Engage

I don't generally mind having a song stuck in my head. I never really understand people when they freak out about me singing something because they're going to get it stuck in their head. The only reason I'm singing it is because it's in my head and I like it.

Generally I love songs in my head. Not tonight though.

Because every time I try to think of something to start the post with, all I get is "Doooo dooo doooo, Doo Dooo do doooooo"

It's not even that cool of a song.

But it's alright. Because in the process of complaining about it, I've start the post.

So on we roll. Not because we must, but because we feel like it's the right thing to do.

I'm amazed at the power of cross country. Track officially ended a few days ago. We had the region meet, and that's the last meet of the season. Once that's over everything for me shifts to cross country. Training essentially starts as soon as track is over.

And boy oh boy, I can already feel the difference.

I didn't write much at all about track this year. I haven't written much of anything for a long time, actually. But that's not the point. Last year I talked about track a lot. I wrote about how I wanted to do, how I actually did, and why I loved it. I wrote about the charms and the discouragements, everything that made me think.

This year I couldn't really do that. Track and I didn't get along this year.

And maybe that's a story for another day. It's something I'm not really too proud of. I made a decision back in junior high that goes against the actions I took with track.

See, we're always in a process of shaping the people that we are going to be. Always changing, making small adjustments. We're finding ourselves. In the process of finding ourselves, we are truly making ourselves. There's nothing out there to find, there's only something to create on this path of 'finding ourselves'.

In junior high I saw some things that disappointed me. I decided that if I was going to do anything, I was going to do it well. I said that if I truly made the decision to pursue something, I was going to pursue it wholeheartedly. I was going to give it my all, not hold anything back.

That decision has brought me a lot of happiness since I made it. I do not follow it as often as I should. I love times when I make that decision though. I can see the difference, and I can still feel the difference weeks later.

On nights that I play Ultimate or basketball, you can always tell whether I've decided to go for it or not. When I make the decision that I'm going to give it my all, there's very little that can be done to stop me. That doesn't mean I'm going to win, it doesn't mean that I'm even going to play well.

But you can see it. I run faster, I jump higher. I literally try harder. It's not a psychological thing, and it's not a physical thing. It is everything rolled into one. My entire being is thrown into whatever I'm working at.

Oh yeah, it's good stuff. When I decide to truly pursue something, I pursue it pretty nice.

I did that with a lot of cross country last year. I know that I didn't do it with all of it, but for a large portion I did. I remember mornings when I woke up at 6:59, thinking that there was no way I could make it to practice in less than 60 seconds. I remember going back to bed, laying there and realizing that I was letting everybody and myself down. I remember that awesome feeling when I rolled out of bed at 7:03, knowing full well that I was three minutes late already. I booked it to school so fast that day.

I had slept too late to make it realistically, I knew that. I had a perfect excuse to go back to bed and miss that whole day of work. But I refused to. I got up and booked it to school. I made it right as they were leaving on the run. I got out and ran with them.

I was successful, and it was because of the choices I made that day. I made the right choice. I dedicated myself to it and I made it there.

It's like that. I made a goal last year to make it to every summer CC practice I could. I knew that it'd be hard; I knew what was on the line. But I made the goal, and I fulfilled. I think I slept through two practices on my own free will. Two out of about a million.

I am proud of how I worked during CC last summer. It's something that I can honestly take pride in. There's no question about it. I made good decisions last summer.

And that's what I want to shoot for in my life. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it well. I'm going to do it all the way. No compromises, no slacking.

Madrigals is one thing I want to apply this to. I am so excited to have made the group. It's an awesome opportunity. It's going to be so much fun.

But, straight off the bat I know I'm probably the weakest singer in there right now. That's not a bad thing, and I don't feel crappy about it. All it means is that I'm going to have to put more work into it.

And you know what? I'm going to. I'm going to bust it in there. I'm going to bring myself up to everybody else's level. I'm going to practice the songs. I'm going to stop chronically swallowing all my notes. With everybody else's help, I'm going to make myself a better singer. I can already see some results. I've been working these past few weeks, and I've been getting a bit of help from Levi and Kyle. I've got an honest desire to become better. It's already happening.

It's easy to talk big like that, sitting in the comfort of my office chair. My office chair doesn't ask me to exit my comfort zone. I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be. I see myself going through cycles of motivation and hard work to cycles of just getting by.

I've thought about that a little bit. What's the solution? Do I just try to maximize the accomplishments of my motivated times and minimize the time I spend lazy?

I don't think that's the answer. I think the answer is going to lie in changing the little things. I've tried the giant life altering approaches. When I'm motivated I'm really good at making plans and following through for a few weeks.

But those weeks eventually end, and I'm back to square one. So I'm trying something different. I'm making it a gradual, day by day thing.

I once had the plan to walk around everywhere on my tip-toes. The concept was that doing so would greatly improve my calf strength, and that'd increase my vertical jump by about a million. I'd finally be able to dunk.

I eventually developed shin-splints and stopped, but the concept is something that I want to apply everywhere. I thought of the plan like this: since I'm always walking, if I could change my walk just a little bit so that walking would help me improve, I'd always be improving. If I was always improving, my life would just keep getting better and better.

The plan wasn't to go do a raging calf workout every day. I wasn't going to hit the gym or power through an insane jump-rope workout. I was just going to walk around on my tip toes.

And that's how I've got to approach life. Yeah, the big stuff is important. But it's the day to day that makes us who we are. It's the day to day that changes the results in the long run. Sure, you can buy your mom a car once you're thirty, but being nice to her every day of your life is going to mean a whole lot more to her than the automobile.

So that's the plan. Make every day mean something. Make it make me a better person. It doesn't have to be big. Most days it probably won't be. But if I can make a real small difference in the world every day, after a while I've suddenly made a crater of goodness.

This theory of life goes along great with flow theory.

Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten the intricacies of flow theory. I never did write it all down. I have the main concept behind it, and I do remember what taught it to me. I'll have to go on a quest this week to rediscover it. It was a good one, and although I didn't apply it as far as I would have liked to, it worked well.

I've often thought about what I could do to make something better. What I could to do to make the blog better, what I could do to become a better ultimate player.

I have a strong belief that desire is the key factor in everything that we do. The scriptures talk about it as it relates to faith, and the application spreads to everything else that we do. Once we have a desire to do anything, we can let that desire work within us to make it happen.

Which, really, is totally awesome.

Because simply by desiring to become a better Ultimate player, I firmly believe that that in itself makes me just a little bit better. Whether or not I end up leveraging that desire to find a way to become better, the simple desire completes half the task for me.

Desire is critical in everything that we do.

You can change days and you can change hours, but in the end its your life that's going to matter. The little things are the real variables here.

I think the key to really figuring the little things out is to consciously evaluate your day. Evaluate your decisions as you make them. Too often I find myself in auto-pilot, doing things just because. Not really for any reason, and not because I want to do them, but just because that's the way that I do things.

But if we'll stop and consider what's happening, if we'll give honest thought to what we're doing, we're gonna find things going a lot better for us. We're going to be happier, and people around us are going to be happier as well. We're going to be more successful.

I subscribe to the concept of individualism. I believe that we make the choice between greatness and mediocrity.

Everybody has natural talents that can take them to mediocrity. Everybody, I think, will default to neutral if they let themselves live long enough.

But it takes something extra on the person's part to truly reach greatness. The person cannot simply live life because there is nothing else to do. That person must rise up and make good decisions. That person must work and toil and become all that they can become.

That's the kicker. Are we waking up because we stopped sleeping, or are we waking up because there's something waiting for us out there? I'm ready to stop just letting life happen, and I'm ready to go face the world with a purpose.

I want to be great. I want to take it to the top. I'm going to do it with singing. I'm going to do it with school. I'm ready to do it with Cross Country. Yeah, I'm gonna start walking around on my toes. Maybe it'll tear my feet up, maybe it'll screw up some tendons. I don't really know, but I'm willing to give it a shot for a while. If problems develop I'll stop.

The point is, I'm setting out. Not on an epic quest. But rather on a slight course adjustment. I'm going to live my life, but I'm going to maximize the progress I make by doing so. When I go on a walk, I'm going to go on a walk to get somewhere.

"We're taking this thing to the moon!" -Strongbad

3 comments:

Nathan said...

Amen!

Every night last summer I would look back at my day. If I accomplished anything worthwhile, it was a good day. If I did nothing productive, I decided that it was a bad day, regardless of any actual emotion. It was a good system, in my opinion; I need to start living by it again.

Anyway, I know you'll achieve the greatness you want someday, Thatcher. Honestly, you're Thatcher--nothing's gonna take you down. 8-)

Fridgecrisis said...

That was an amazing post :)

It's cool how everybody is developing their own theories on life and whatnot. Your flow theory and this "little adjustment" theory, and my "live on purpose" thing. I really don't think most kids come up with things like this, and we'll be better for it in the long run.

I just wish I had some of your confidence. One of my big problems is something you named - I don't really put my all into anything. I live half-heartedly, and I don't think it's becuase I don't think and evaluate enough, it's probably because I think and evaluate too much. I second-guess myself at every turn, and that just throws a whole 'nother twist into everything - not only do I have to work against all the outside forces keeping me from doing anything great, I also have to fight this battle inside, I have to decide whether what I'm doing is worthwhile or what I really want to do.

I really, really want to lose that self-critical side of me. And there's one thing I'm sure of - next year, and starting this summer, I'm not letting that part of me screw anything up. It's gonna be the best year of my life, whether I want it to be or not :)

Keep posting :) These things motivate me.

Kortney said...

Freaking amazing! It motivates me too!