It’s been a crazy damn year.
On Christmas Eve, our daughter turned a year old. I’ve spent most of the year with her — since I work from home, we opted to save our money and not put her in day care. Maybe this held her back a little, socially; yes, we were around other children in our visits to library storytime and we saw plenty of people about —; we weren’t shy about walks in the park, shopping or eating out — but there was no immersion.
It was definitely cool to see positive peer pressure at play — “Daddy, that little girl’s walking. Stand me up, Dude.” “Uh, sweetie, you’ve been standing for 3 days and you have to hold on.” “I said, stand me up, Dude.” “OK, fine. Don’t get cocky.”
But if I’m honest, for most of the first nine months of her life, I played a victim card. “I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t have time to exercise. I can’t get any quiet time. Everybody needs something from me. I haven’t run 2 miles since the marathon last year.”
My annual physical had me up some weight, but also with elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as borderline pre-diabetic.
That was a wake-up call. Choose: (a) Die young of a heart attack; (b) be around for a while but be on medications with side effects like muscle soreness and joint pain and lack of energy; or (c) do some fucking work.
I fumbled around for a month, and then decided, no more. I killed the last of my excuses. I didn’t get where I wanted to be, but I got on the right path, and I’ll be focusing on my health for 2020, even if it means getting up at 5am more often than I’d like.
I read a big pile of books (not counting the little ones we read to the baby). Five favorites from the year:
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (audio). You’re probably familiar with Goggins, but if not, quick summary: He wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Just to qualify, he lost 100 pounds in 3 months. Then he had to get through hell week three times after he wound up with broken bones the first two times. When he got out of the military, he started running ultra marathons, and he set a 24-hour pull-up record.
Most recently, he went to run the Moab 240 (that would be a 240-mile race through the Moab desert). He went 7 miles off course and had to run those 7 miles back, and then at the 200 mile marker (so, 214 miles in), he was carted off to the hospital with a high-altitude edema. The race organizers wouldn’t let him finish (which makes sense, of course). And then he went ahead and finished on his own anyway.
Can’t Hurt Me is his memoir of growing up with an abusive father, and of getting out with a mother whom his dad wouldn’t marry, so there would be no financial obligation to her. He had a ghost writer on the book, and the audiobook version of it is read by the ghost writer. But it’s not a straight reading — after each section, he has a conversation with Goggins, going into more detail.
Creativity: The Human Brain in the Age of Innovation by Elkhonon Goldberg. Goldberg has put together the most comprehensive view to date of how creativity is handled in the brain. This stuff fascinates me, and, while I don’t know if it’s truly possible to exercise certain pieces of the brain, it means that if we can, we understand which parts target creativity.
While Goldberg does come at this from a very scientific standpoint, it’s a fairly accessible book. Not exactly beach reading, but you don’t need a degree in neurobiology to get it.
Feck Perfuction by James Victore. We outlined my highlights on Victore’s book just a couple of weeks ago, so I won’t go too deeply in here, but understand that Victore had a vision for his life. He way surpassed it, and then found himself lost because he didn’t have a plan for success. Learn from that. He did.
Read as a pair: Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.If you want a fresh perspective on where we’ve been (Sapiens) and where we’re going (Homo Deus), give these a read. And don’t be fooled by the subtitles. There’s nothing “brief” about these books.
Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink (audio available from Apple Music).This is a regular listen for me while I’m running, or while I’m making excuses for not running. The manual is divided into short, severable sections, so it can be listened to on shuffle. Or just read the thing, but I’m not sure it’s as effective in print. If you’re not sure who Jocko is or why you should listen, go watch Good (under 2 and a half minutes).
Plus the usual rereads: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth by R. Buckminster Fuller; The War of Art, Turning Pro and Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. These are at least annual reads for me, sometimes twice a year. Pressfield reminds us to get to work; Fuller reminds us why. All four are quick reads.
Overall, the year was not a strong year. I felt weak, defeated and like a victim for much of it. But I finished strong, which brings momentum into 2020. Onward!