a priori/a posteriori

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Going to the Gym

I re-watched Patrice O’Neal’s special this week, after he passed away on Tuesday morning. And something he said really hit me. Well, a lot of things did, if I’m going to be honest. But for the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on a particular point.

It was related to this bit from his special, about not being able to type. He went on to say that if you’re 40, and you want to better yourself...don’t bother. Because you can’t change your ethic.

Your ethic. You know you should eat healthier. You should go to the gym every day. You should floss every day.

What stops you from doing that stuff? It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s not that you can’t. In fact, a lot of us will do those things. We’ll make those changes...for a little while. We’ll go to the gym for a few weeks. We’ll floss four straight days. We’ll make a change.

But then we fall off the wagon again. And then it’s two months later, and we haven’t been to the gym once. You’re eating fast food 6 nights a week. You can’t remember the last time you flossed.

Because it’s hard to change your ethic.

That’s my struggle. It is now, and honestly, it has been for as long as I can remember. I guess another word for it is discipline. I want to write every day. I want to do two or three shows, most nights. The desire is there. But the discipline isn’t.

My body is in really bad shape right now. If you go 50 push-ups into my past, I bet we’re talking 3 months ago. I haven’t worked out since the summer. Everyone who hasn’t seen me in a while mentions that I’ve lost some weight.

Maybe I’m connecting too many dots together, but I don’t think so: I think the reason I’m not healthy right now is the same reason that I’m not fully becoming the comic that I want to be: I need to change my ethic.

One thing Patrice didn’t mention in his special was how to change it. All he said was that by 40, don’t bother. Well, I may be as fatalistic by the time I’m 40. And maybe I’ll look back and realize that, even at 27, it was just too late to make core changes to who I am as a person.

But I’ve gotta at least try. ...Right?

At the beginning of this year, I did something. I decided to floss every day, for one year. I’ve never flossed much, so the idea of doing it - every day, no exceptions - for a year? It was a pretty big deal.

I started on January 27, if I remember right, and I made it a solid six weeks, without much trouble. But then I went to SXSW, and once I got out of my consistent daily routine, I fell apart. I missed a day, and as soon as I did, I fell apart. And I haven’t flossed consistently since.

You want to know what’s funny? Maybe I’m imagining it...but I’m pretty sure those were six of the most productive weeks of my life. Hold on, let me check this blog...

Ha. That was when Lucas and I decided to create this blog. And that was the only time we made stupid, dumb, super-fun videos and photo-stories for it. In the one month that I was flossing, I wrote about half as much as I’ve written in the eight months since.

Now, this blog doesn’t define how productive my life has been. But honestly? It’s probably not a bad clue.

So, what do I do? Am I destined to be a person who lives my whole life feeling shitty, because I-coulda-been-a-great-comic is the best thing I can say about myself?

Honestly? Maybe. Maybe that’s what my life is gonna be. Maybe I’ll never write a book, or a script, or record a special, or become a good enough comic for someone to think that I need to be on TV. Maybe.

But I guess all I can do is try.

Hmm. Now I’m reminded of another comic who died this past year, Mike DeStefano.

I went to a tribute show for Mike last month, and it was a solid show. Colin Quinn, Kurt Metzger, Eugene Mirman, Robert Kelly, and others. But at the end, they showed a tribute video.

The tribute video was clips of his stand-up, clips from a few TV appearances, some podcast footage, and stuff like that. And then there was footage from when he went back and performed at a recovery clinic.

I think it was a recovery clinic. Mike had been addicted to heroin for years before he got clean and got a job as a drug counselor. He only started doing comedy after groups of addicts started laughing from the shockingly honest answers he’d give to their questions. To put it simply, it was so surprising to have someone actually tell them the truth...it was hilarious.

And so his path in stand-up started. And a decade or so later, he found himself doing a set to a roomful of recovering - but more likely not recovering - addicts.

And, I can only presume, he was funny. And engaging. And good.

And then he got to the end of his set, and he just talked to them. He said that most of what people tell them about quitting is bullshit. I don’t remember everything he said, but I remember them showing shots of people in the crowd, just crying.

He basically said that in order to quit, each person had to find the belief in their own minds that they actually could quit. And once you found that actual belief, he said, you had to grab onto that belief, and let that be everything you focus on, and never let go of that thing, whatever it was.

I’m not doing it justice. But I tried to remember it, even though at the time, I thought it didn’t apply to me.

Now, I think it kind of does. I’m addicted to a certain ethic - an ethic of not writing during the day, of not writing out script ideas I have, of not eating every day (probably just mine), of not flossing.

I’m addicted to a poor ethic. So what can I do?

1) Search for the thing inside me that makes me believe I could change my ethic and become a better, more disciplined version of myself
2) Once I find it, grab hold of that belief
3) Make some changes, and then never let my eyes off of that reason. Hang on for dear life.

Step 1 starts now. Time to go search.

Bryson Turner

(Note: I took two pictures to try to better illustrate just how skinny I am right now...maybe the skinniest I’ve been in years. But instead, I think it just kind of looks like sad-me is looking longingly at happy-me. I trust you get the idea)

No comments:

Post a Comment