Developing Muscle Memory
A few years ago I was put on daily medicine to treat hypertension.
I was getting headaches. When my doctor tested my blood pressure it was concerningly high.
At that point I hadn’t been to the doctor in a few years.
I was in my mid-thirties, so I felt like I was pretty young, but I also felt like I had already rolled the dice long enough in my life. My weight, my diet, my exercise regimen, were all at a setting I would self-deprecatingly refer to as YOLO-Level neglect.
The pills were a wake up call.
First off, they made me feel like an older man.
It was a harbinger of my demise. An inflection point.
I was married at that point. I was well into the stage of my career where I was beginning to trade on my reputation and influence, and people started caring about my opinions. I’m ok with people calling me sir. I care about the stocks. I vote in local elections.
It’s the measured, belabored trudge towards death, adulthood.
But again let’s be clear, I was absolutely not surprised I needed blood pressure medication.
My career was stressful. My fitness regimen was seeing how many chicken wings I could fit’ness gut.
Random aside: I participate in and occasionally politely chuckle at fat jokes (one of the few realms of comedy where punching down is totally fine), mostly as a function of community-wide self-hatred. The US is pretty fat... and in general I notice people attack in others what we hate about ourselves. I feel truly bad when large stand-up comics feel it necessary to make fat jokes (probably out of a career of knowing not to avoid the topic or else face MORE ridicule), and also one of the measures of comedy is how far you're willing to degrade yourself for a laugh... I appreciate and respect body positivity but I don't know how ready I am personally to be 'proud' in my body. Let's say the current state is "happy it still generally functions as expected". But obviously FUCK body-shamers. In the words of Lil' Rel Howery "why don't you mind your little goofy ass business!"
I wasn't sleeping well. My mood started to degrade and my anxiety began spiking. It feels like running in circles. I think it’s more accurately like running in circles in quicksand. Technically it’s a downward spiral.
And, no shit, the best way to get out of quicksand is to lean back and try to get your feet to float to the surface so you can better kick yourself out of the rough patch. (Real talk I googled this after dropping the quicksand analogy because I thought you were supposed to try and float but I also sort of dumped that info from my brain because really you guys when do we need to know about quicksand survival techniques?! Also I’m aware Mulaney has an excellent quicksand joke, and a fantastic catalog of material. I’m just so happy this edition of QUICKSAND SURVIVAL FACTS fits with the idea I was developing!)
I guess, in a way, this period of unemployment was me breaking that cycle in my work life. I am blessed to have had this time to better understand my potential path forward, even if a small component of that path will involve high comfort with uncertainty and change. (and also acknowledging that period of unemployment wasn’t really me leaning back, nor am I quite sure how close I am to being out of that period)
In another way, focus on my overall health has been mental and physical.
I just got back from a 7-mile bike ride with my lovely wife. I did not realize how insanely difficult it is to find bicycles these days, but I’m happy with my one speed cruiser so far overall.
It’s lovely to see new pieces of our neighborhood. It’s also lovely to see familiar bits of our neighborhood from a new, more sensory-rich perspective. We drive quickly by commercial parks without realizing the lovely smells from the landscaping, or the relaxing ripple on man-made ponds in front of bland office buildings.
The way our community is planned, we’ve seen an AWFUL LOT of a three block radius in the last five years. Our area isn’t practically walkable, and as our dog gets older our circle’s tightening.
But on a bike, we’re near wooded trails, other beautifully manicured but tucked away neighborhoods, hidden bike paths. A universe of exploration has opened up to us.
And I’m happy we’re excited about it. Developing healthy habits is hard.
The thing about a habit is you can’t focus on the activity itself, you have to focus on the routine you establish behind that activity.
I truly would not be able to sit here and write weekly had I not just one day this January decided to sit here once a week and write.
Some weeks I don't have a topic when I sit down. Some weeks I start three or four other blog posts before I get to the one I publish. It’s made me start thinking about posting more during the week. It’s made me consider talking on a broader range of topics.
But for now, I am committing to weekly. Because I am focusing on the routine.
It was thrilling getting 250 views on my weed post. I could have been deflated by the 40 views the following week, or encouraged that it was better reception than a bunch of the previous 14 blog posts combined.
Or I could ignore the result altogether and enjoy the process. (HA!)
I enjoy sitting with my cup of coffee, listening to some jazz or lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals to drown out whatever reality-based or horse-themed melodrama Kelly’s got on in the background. It’s a lovely Sunday ritual.
I look forward to adding bicycling into our routine as well.
I used to say I wasn’t big on routine.
It was one of the features of my previous job I didn’t love. Sure, the client, the professors, the idiosyncratic challenges made each individual program distinct and unique. But as the years dragged on, I felt like I was running in circles.
Doing the same work with just a few idiosyncratic parts didn’t feel like variety, it felt like phoning it in. And despite feeling that way, I kept receiving praise and appreciation, which I then began to undervalue. And then I started making little mistakes that would amplify my feelings of failure, of laziness… See fuck that cycling!
It wasn’t that I’m not big on routine. It was that I was in the wrong job.
I have/had the right set of skills. But I had no business being in that space. It wasn’t just imposter syndrome, it was truly not belonging.
This couldn’t be more clear to me now. But in the moment I absolutely felt I deserved to be miserable. I was making a fine salary, my job was repeatable indefinitely, job security at a university was pretty good (historically speaking, excepting lately and maybe moving forward…) benefits were great. If I was miserable why would I stay at this job and do this to myself? I must be choosing my fate. Getting further into that rut.
It’s fear of failure, fear of exposure, all of that, sure. I understand that now… but however these doubts manifest they have absolutely imprisoned so many others it’s worth articulating out loud as many times as I can if only for it to ring one other bell.
It’s totally ok to feel this way, but at a certain point you do have to decide whether you want to explore why you keep feeling this way. Some people call it “getting out of your own way”. I think I am finally starting to embody that saying.
I am excited about the newness and volatility of the cannabis industry as much as I am passionate about cannabis itself. I see a broad swath of opportunity in the industry. I am excited to continue learning about the most interesting and perhaps challenging issues facing the industry and how I can be a proponent in solving those problems.
The more I meet people with my whole self the more I accept the encouragement, the more energized I am by the journey.
And my energy behind it can be described as anything but lazy (and yo, if you don’t want to talk about it seriously I get it, but I’m seriously done not talking about it, so maybe get used to it? Or I guess peace out! kthx!)
I am building healthier habits, but it’s important to acknowledge and amplify those that are already in place:
I say “I love you” to my wife every day.
I give my dog scritches and take him for walks every day.
I take my medicine every day.
I get out of bed every day. I write to you, dear reader, every week.
In many contexts in my life, the questions I’m asking have shifted from “Do I start this or not?” to “Do I stop this or keep going?” and I am excited that it now feels better to keep going than it does to stop (bless you whichever number Newton’s law mentions inertia).
I almost forgot the feeling of being unstoppable! Especially careening down the road on Big Shirl. Maybe I'll see y'all out and about! :) All the best, Doc Wattson
Native Stranger Productions