Daylight savings time just switched and with that came Easter and the start of springtime. This is the time when we knock the rust off from the winter gloom and are reborn again. For me, I’ve been doing a lot of pondering but have been just going through the motions in most areas. That meant doing a regular workout routine, keeping the kids moving in the right direction, but that’s about it. I’ve been mailing it in a lot of days. I rationalize that behavior by saying that I’m consolidating my gains, finding happiness in the stillness, and taking a break from a long period of production and improvement. While those things may all be true, it is also true that I simply felt unmotivated and lazy. And it was far easier to slip into that land of nothingness and bad habits than I would have thought. But things can change on a dime, and ratcheting things up for the next chapter can start today.
My parents are starting a new chapter of their life this spring, which will be interesting to see play out. After 44 years of working as a nurse, my mom retired just a couple weeks ago, joining my father who has been retired for over 10 years. They immediately jumped on a plane for a 6 week vacation to New Zealand and put the exclamation point on her retirement departure. When they return in late April, real life will begin again, which should be an interesting time in the fall/winter of their lives. My father is about as low key as you can be, which is a nice way to say very boring. He watches movies, goes to the YMCA and runs (interesting aside, he didn’t start running until a few years after he retired, and has since completed maybe a half dozen half marathons, which is pretty cool). My mom on the other hand is a whirling dervish of energy and activities, who has worked the night shift for 30 years. Should be fun as they figure out their new routines.
Moving back to our situation. My wife, now a year out from her second hip surgery, has also been feeling the itch to change with the season. She has many more excuses than me, and carries much more stress with her on a day-to-day basis, but she too wants to change. To improve from where she is today. She’s eating better but more importantly is engaged in a workout goal once again, signing up for a trail running series that goes from late spring to late summer. The winter is always a rough time of year for her as she suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and gets grumpy as hell. As a result, we’ve been in maintenance mode as well, not really connecting as a couple as much as I’d like. When someone is in a funk, or suffers from depression, or isn’t happy with themselves, there is not too much the partner can do except try to steer the bigger family ship to clearer seas and take the lead, thereby relieving the party of additional stress. But it is not my responsibility to make someone else happy. It simply is nearly an impossible task. And with my own complacency the last couple months, we’ve been treading water as best we can.
So with the new beginnings come some struggling of new ideas and integration of springtime activities into our lives. For me, I’m going to be volunteering more (hopefully bringing the kids and maybe my wife along with me), and spending more time doing fun sports activities. While I love lifting weights, running, walking, and boxing by myself, I miss the comradery of man time. I plan to start rolling BJJ again in my friend’s basement gym again, as well as playing Old Man soccer pickup game on Sunday mornings. Provided I can stay healthy, those activities will add some fresh air into my soul. Our children both start their springtime soccer, where I help coach the 8 year old. And I’d like to continue to meditate and ponder life. The more I really dig into everything, the more I feel that this charade of work, and societal expectations, of acquisitions and smart phones, and see it simply as bullshit we are all hypnotized to believe is important. Instead, it is really a distraction to what life really is about: love and relationships, of seeing the miracles in the mundane, of quieting the mind and feeling the energy of the Universe or God in people and nature. I’m not sure where that thought process will take me, but I’ve been able to stay in the moment more, enjoy the mundane more, and generally be more happy despite the self-imposed life requirements I have. It is like in Chuck Pahlnuik’s Fight Club
After a night in fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down. Nothing can piss you off. Your word is law, and if other people break that law or question you, even that doesn’t piss you off.
When you start to see most of what we are set in motion each day as pretty much meaningless, it is pretty hard to get pissed off about it. I was listening to a great recent podcast by comedian and spiritual thought provoker Duncan Trussell (who is out on tour this spring – I am catching him in April), where he touched on what the elderly reflecting on their lives have said. It is something that I’ve heard before, but essentially most say they wish they hadn’t worried so much about the shit that ultimately doesn’t matter. The TPS reports. The work politics. Worrying about drama just to have some drama and excitement in your life. Essentially worrying about what may happen in any area of your life (but especially work) is a complete waste of time and energy, and is like a hole in the bucket of happiness. Hence, I do my best to turn down that volume and stay present. It’s hard to get worked up about stuff when you start to see that it really doesn’t matter. I like to play “what’s the worst that can happen” game sometimes. And if you flesh that out a little, the worst that can happen isn’t really that bad (even if you get fired, and your life gets jolted, you will end up back on your feet – one of the laws of the universe is that it has your back and everything will be ok), so let it roll off your back like water on a duck.
As I mentioned, as both my wife and I are working to improve our minds and our meat suits we call our bodies, there is room for growth as a couple. While we got away last weekend to a fancy hotel (for a work awards dinner), we haven’t really been spending much time together or connecting much as a couple. With the warmer weather has already come some more one-on-one time, since we can leave the 8 and 10 year old home for 45 minutes or an hour while we go running. Or let them play while we spend time together in the sauna. And she suggested we go to hot yoga together (she’s been actively doing yoga now for maybe 6 months). While not the bullshit forced dates that many go on, it is time spent together doing something good for ourselves, releasing endorphins, and we can talk about life during or after these activities. It is good for us, and it seems like we hadn’t had many of those moments over the winter.
I can feel the vibe shifting. Life is cyclical, and it seems like every year we go through this. That ratcheting of life and marriage, you go up for awhile, then you slide back a little, then you go up again – hopefully climbing as you go. Our marriage and life is far from perfect, but we patch and fix things on a regular basis, and try to keep the magic alive. We feel extremely lucky most days for our healthy, happy, and bright kids, a stupid dog who brings us joy, good friends and neighbors, and for the marriage and life we have built. But it takes effort and work and bringing freshness to it on a regular basis to keep the mold of complacency off, which sounds simple but many couples don’t do that.
So take some time this spring to open your eyes, breathe in the fresh spring flower-scented air, and begin anew. There is never a better time than now. Step up in the bedroom or in life and add some excitement back after a long winter. Even if your spouse isn’t quite there yet, there’s no reason you can’t change the vibration in your life and see if that energy rubs off. Stop settling for the status quo, and begin with that first step towards something new for a better life – even if you don’t know exactly where your steps will end up taking you.