The Modern Love Machine warned me after I wrapped up triathlon training two months ago not to rest too long on my laurels. ‘You don’t want to have to start that boulder rolling again from a dead stop,’ he said.
Nature has had other plans for me. Two weeks after the race and about the time I was starting to ease into minor workouts again, I spent a Friday pulling weeds as part of a company-sponsored volunteer day and ended up with poison ivy all over my body. It took nearly three weeks for it to clear up, and for at least 3/4ths of that time I was in no mood to workout. The past month has been spent traveling here, there and everywhere for work and for play, and all physical activity has come in fits and starts with a jog here and there but no firm routine.
I’m a firm believer that to accomplish great things in this world, you need the kind of momentum gained only from consistent hard work. You become a doctor through long-term study. You complete an Ironman triathlon with regular training. You most successfully lose weight by constant, careful monitoring of what you eat and regular workout. You do these things over and over until the momentum takes over. The work may still be hard, but you have an innate drive to continue.
All of that is to say, momentum is a total asshole.
Oh sure, when momentum is doing good in your life, it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. But give it enough disruption, and it changes direction and leaves you high and dry. Or lazy and over-indulgent, as my own personal case may be.
I have momentum, alright — momentum of the eat, drink and be merry variety. Between extravagant meals in San Francisco and downright unhealthy eating in New York and the beer (all the beer) in Asheville and parties and nights out with friends, the boulder hasn’t just been at a dead stop. It’s rolled backwards and right over me — over and over and over again.
After about a week of wallowing and feeling downright crummy, I realized that it was going to take being selfish to turn things around. Before taking my new job in April, my work environment was one that kept me mostly on my own with little chance of social interaction with either colleagues or personal friends. Since the change, I’ve been embracing as many social invitations as I could handle and then some. I was enjoying it until I got to the point that my own needs and health were being neglected.
I weasled out of one of three planned school night social events and turned down three Halloween party invitations yesterday. I’ve cleaned and paid bills. The MLM and I have nearly cleaned out the DVR. Yesterday I ran five miles and watched a movie that had been on my to-watch list for several months. Today I will either run or swim, and I’ll do some mental cleaning in the form of writing.
There’s a balancing line somewhere between where I was and where I am now, and I’ll find it eventually. But I will continue to be a little bit selfish until the momentum kicks in and that boulder starts moving a bit on its own, and I’m not apologizing for it either.