Lessons from Rufus and Ellis: The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down

I was tired this morning. When you wake up, bury your head under the covers and just lay there for another couple of hours tired.

But Rufus was having none of it. With JB in the shower, he sensed I was awake, and he walked over to my side of the bed, nudged my hand, did a couple of circles, wagged his tail, brought me a bone, then a stuffed chimp, and it was pretty evident that what he was saying was, "Hey, Josh, it's daylight. You're a morning person. You love the world. Get up and see what Saturday has to offer."

And so it's 9am, and we've walked, and we've breakfasted, and we're going to go do some cleaning up and then have a day. You know, 'cause we're riding on a big blue world.

Learning about moderation from fire

One of the things I've been doing to relax this winter is putting a fire in the fireplace. I can sit with a book, or with the TV on, or I can just sit and watch the thing burn with a glass of wine in my hand. For hours, occasionally getting up to throw on a log.

I've spent the past year and a half of my life in the fitness industry. It's a world full of people who don't understand what moderation is, or how to achieve it. And those who do, are extreme in their moderation.

Mostly, people are really focused on working out, or on nutrition, or on both. They're looking for 4% body fat to see if they can do it. They'll spend one eight-week period trying to lose 15 pounds to see if they can do it, and the next eight weeks trying to gain 15 pounds, just to see if they can do it.

Then there are the people who talk about their goals endlessly and do very little toward achieving them. They're all motivation and no action. To an extreme.

Then there are the people who do find a fitness/fun balance – these are people who make sure they enjoy themselves from a food and drink standpoint, then do exactly enough exercise to maintain their weight. To an extreme.

I've noticed that, as I've become more and more part of the fitness world, I'm headed that way, too. I know what's in everything I eat. I know exactly what each protein:carb:fat balance will do to my weight the next morning. I know exactly what I'm going to feel like tomorrow based on what I consume. And it's not just knowledge; I think about it. A lot.

I've moved away from moderation.

So, back to that fire.

To keep a fire going is work. You have to make the time to add logs here and there, and move partly burned logs around, and create some air now and again.

You can't just pile more wood on and expect it to burn longer, because the fire will just spread and consume all that new wood immediately. It's greedy. It's a bit on the extreme side.

What we learn from fire is that, in order to keep it alive, we have to plan, we have to observe, and we have to be ready to deal with some things we weren't expecting – like airflow, or some wetness inside what we thought was a dry log.

That's how you keep a fire under control and burning for a while, prolonging enjoyment. Moderation and some attention.

That's how we get the most out of our lives, even while we focus on our health, our fitness, our nutrition, our enjoyment of day-to-day life.

Anything that you might do to the extreme? Tuck it down a notch. You'll enjoy it more, and over a longer period of time.

[photo credit]

What we’re reading

Some of the changes I've made in my life in the new year have allowed me to do more of something I really enjoy: reading.

Here are some brief thoughts on what I've been reading.

279 Days to Overnight Success. There are a lot of how to make money on the Internet books out there, but this really combines the best of all worlds. Chris Guillebeau outlines a project that is intensely do-able. Be consistent, be honest, and don't promise things before you're sure you can deliver.

This is also a great guide to changing existing habits or creating new ones.

Stingray Shuffle. Mitch turned me onto the works of Tim Dorsey. Dorsey's hero, Serge Storms, is a wacky hobbyist-slash-sleuth-slash-homicidal maniac. Everything I've read is hysterical, fun and downright enjoyable. I'm not even going to bother summarizing the plot for you; just go grab some Dorsey and unwind.

The Art of Racing in the Rain. I'm in the middle of this on audiobook. JB recommended it to me when we decided we were getting a dog, and she talked me into trying the audiobook (which is great, because I can listen to it while I'm walking Rufus). I love the narration, I love that I don't need light or to pause to read it, and I love the book.

Narrated by a dog on the eve of his euthanizing, the novel is about Enzo's family, from living with Denny – a race car driver known for his ability to drive in the rain – to Denny's meeting his wife Eve and having their daughter Zoe, to Eve's brain cancer and more.

Garth Stein's Enzo is convinced that dogs are closer to humans than chimps are, and he puts up a good argument.

Do the Work. Steven Pressfield, an accomplished novelist, screenwriter, and probably something else, too, wrote this outline to completing a project. It walks you through the outlining process, the self-doubt, the crash when something goes horribly wrong, and the push to ship your product. This is a quick, easy read, and I highly recommend it, even if you don't have a major project on tap.

An Object of Beauty. Steve Martin is best known as a comic actor, and a really good one at that. But he's a great literary novelist, too, and this Manhattan art-world story focused on our protagonist, Lacey Yeager, is a great read.

We meet Lacey in art school, and follow her through her first job at Sotheby's, at a private gallery, and then into gallery ownership.

Your turn: What are you reading these days?