Left to my own devices, I’m pretty sure I’d be holed up in some dead-end motel in the desert, drinking jaw-dropping amounts of Johnnie Walker and chain-smoking unfiltered Lucky Strikes, ungroomed and covered in Cheez-It dust while watching headline news on mute. I haven’t had a drink in over three years and ten days before that, it was another three years. But this tendency to self-destruct beats in my core, I’m sure of it. Perhaps all of us carry it to some degree, although I hope some of us are lucky enough to never know it.
The other night I was laying on the couch and thinking about booze, watching the ceiling fans spin like they’re the sound of the Velvet Underground’s swirling guitars come to life as dangerous machines. And all the politicians makin’ crazy sounds. And everybody puttin’ everybody else down. And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds. In the morning I found a note to myself: “Go to Chick-Fil-A, then buy a weight set. Be more alpha.”
I’m fascinated by the impulse to procrastinate on the things that are good for me, the things which make me happy when I actually do them. Tomorrow I will swim, tomorrow I will work on the book. Tomorrow I will wake up, stretch, make the bed, and eat granola. Sometimes this line of thinking goes too far: tomorrow I will be perfect. This is crippling. I’ll find myself waiting for the clouds to part, the sky to open up, to catch a glimpse of something magical— divine, even —some kind of sign that says Go. Which never happens.
Someday I would like to touch my toes. Someday I will think about spiritual matters.
We live in an age of thousands of motivational phrases, self-help manuals, transformational conferences, inspiration blogs, and sloganeering riffing on carpe diem, all of which boils down to the same thing: sit down and do the work.