Hairy Animals

I pride myself on my physical fitness. It’s one of the few things in life that I’ve truly earned, not just inherited.

Fitness wins competitions. Talent only matters for the 1% of competitors at the highest level.

In the NBA, or NCAA basketball, every player has peak physical conditioning. This means that the fitness “playing field” is actually quite level. Only after fitness becomes a non issue, do skill and focus become the game changers. The best teams have the most talent and the most drive.

But if you yank two Joe Bobbys off the street, and you put them in a game of one-on-one against each other… Or maybe you have them race 500 meters… Or maybe swim across a pond… Or teach them any new game: rugby, soccer, baseball, anything…

The winner is the fittest person. Not the most skilled, because both have low skill levels, but the person who can breath steady the longest.

Somebody once said that if your life has gone to shit, if you’ve really hit rock bottom and don’t know which way is UP – then the first thing to do is go to the gym. (I hate gyms and would never recommend them, but it’s still a good quote.)

This is important because if 20 people go to a job interview. If 20 people take a piano class. If 20 people learn to dance. If 20 people learn how to invest money. If 20 people fall into loving relationships…

The physically fit people always have an advantage.

Life will drag you across the concrete by your pinky toe one day, and when that day comes, you want to have all the advantages you can get. You want cookies in your lunchbox, not rocks.

The skills above don’t require you to run five miles or throw a rubber ball around. But they do require that you sleep well, eat well, show up on time, think clearly, take criticism, give criticism, stand your ground, follow through, negotiate with honesty, speak clearly, meet goals, compensate, judge a situation objectively, and relax when it’s time to relax.

 

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The Written Word

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Writing is focus and focus is meditation.

When I write a letter to a friend, I hold the vision of that living person in my mind’s eye. Once I’ve got them properly framed, human emotion takes over and I start to react. Writing a letter to a friend is a shockingly intimate exercise. I just gave a single person 1 or 2 hours of my full thought power. And just like gold or diamonds, a little bit of undivided attention is infinitely more valuable than even a lifetime of sandy, diluted attention.

I’ve always held that writing is holy. I used to believe it in a song-lyricy way. But now I believe it in a prudent, roman numeral sort of way.

The singular focus of meditation is what makes it sacred. To watch an athlete in the peak instant of his performance. To witness a baby being born. To get down on one knee and offer your marriage proposal. These are moments of focus. These are moments where, if your phone rings, no way in hell are you picking up.

I’m afraid that life will be a series of random events until one day there’s no “next event.” When I write I feel focused. I feel more like a Captain and less like a soggy piece of driftwood.