Shake It Up

A thing I don’t like about myself: I’m a creature of habit. When it comes to the mechanics of day-to-day living, I’m a robot; I do the same routine every day, and when knocked out of my schedule I thrash about in a rage. Although most of these habits are benign, I don’t think I care much about what they say about me. To me, the process has begun to have about it the aroma of fear. I hate that. It feels like a narrow jungle path, and to stray from that path into the dark and dense wild is to risk being eaten by…well, jungle things. Christ, now I’ve stumbled into a thicket of similies. Hand me my metaphor machete, if you please.

Fear is a good thing, if it’s plugged in and modulated by common sense. That model tells you that it’s really a bad idea to eat just any old mushroom you find growing alongside the trail, or to ride a shopping cart off of a cliff just because your friend with the video camera tells you it’ll be a hit on YouTube. I’m not afraid of that fear. Well, I am, because that’s the whole idea, but I mean I understand and accept that sort of fear. The sort that sticks in my craw is the one that convinces me that I shouldn’t do something different (or differently) because it might cause inconvenience, or because “Jaysus, if you do that, who can say what will happen?!”. Good fear helps keep you alive. Bad fear kills you long before you remember to stop breathing.

I’ve gone off the path before, and in most cases it’s been a good decision. The missus and I moved half-way across these United States for no other reason than to see a new place, to live elsewhere; no jobs, an apartment rented sight-unseen (okay, that was a mistake, but we survived it), all of our possessions piled into an open 8-by-10 U-Haul trailer topped with orange tarps flapping in the slipstream as we rolled along. Scary. Exhilarating.* Then there’s the bike. Before I bought a decent bicycle and started commuting, I thought the people who rode in traffic were screwballs with a death wish** and I couldn’t imagine doing it. Then my wife (!) suggested we try it and I haven’t looked back. Because of these and other examples I know empirically that change can be rewarding if you can see past the apprehension. This is why I’m a bit ticked off with myself lately. I think I’m too comfortable.

In an effort to dig myself out of the rut I’ve been in the last few years, I’m changing my daily schedule. No more going to work an hour early just to drink coffee and do the New York Times crossword. I’ll be at the gym by 5:45 ayem punishing my still-groggy, cold, shrieking muscles. Then home, breakfast with the missus, shower, and on the bike. I’ve already started this routine, and I quite like having started the day with a success. My muscles have dissenting opinions, but they’ll come around. Also, I need to start doing more recreational cycling because, while commuting is far from joyless, my riding has become too utilitarian and I need to re-introduce myself to the fun of simple neighborhood rolls with no destination necessary. And walking. I love to walk and hike, and I can’t remember the last time I walked for the simple pleasure of it.

Hell, I’m even kicking around the idea of doing theater again. My last audition was years ago; I’d been away from it for a couple of years before that, I was nervous and ill-prepared, and since it was an audition not just for a role but for a collection of area directors and assorted big-wigs, I thought it more important than was good for me and thus increased the pressure on myself out of all sense of proportion. It was awful, and I think I might have actually flung beads of flop-sweat out into the audience. I was a shuddering mess when I left, and I thought my stage days were over. But now I wonder…

What I’m reading: Pegasus Bridge, Stephen E. Ambrose (Excellent and engrossing!)

Last film seen: The Good Shepherd (A well-crafted thriller I’ll never watch again…yeah, it’s one of those.)

G’on, git!


*True story: When I stepped out of the car onto the curb in front of Morrison Place Apartments at SW 19th and Morrison, I looked up and saw that big blue Volvo sign and thought for a few seconds that it was projecting from the West Hills, like the Hollywood sign, so askew was my perspective. I wasn’t used to seeing hills and mountains in the way of the horizon. (Okay, so fine, I sound like Jethro Clampett in the big city. Taste of my expansive caucasian buttocks, if you please.)

**This observation I still hold as mostly true.

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