The 100% Lie
The 100% Lie
Perhaps the greatest lie of the 21st century is:
If you just drink this drink, take this pill, buy this car then you will feel great.
Ingest this, buy that and all your aches, pains, sufferings as well as– your failures, regrets, worries, and burdens will magically melt away and you will feel 100%.
The first time I saw my neurologist, he looked at me and sort-of-jokingly said, “You’ll probably never ski again.” Sensing I was not in a joking mood, cleared his throat and said, “What I mean is–you’ll never be 100% again.”
That was 6 years ago.
As a write this–my magnificently damaged brain is magnificently stable. There have been no signs of further degeneration.
Yet I’m (still) trying to accept the hard reality I’ll never be 100%.
Haley is 11 and she’s smart and funny and goodhearted. She likes spinning cartwheels, eating ice cream. She’s quick to tell you about Aruba’s economy (thanks to a class project) and even quicker to cry if you take a stern tone with her.
She has chores now, if the car ride is short–she sits in the front seat, and she’s getting braces in the fall.
By the looks of things– she’s growing up well.
But Cindy and I know Haley loves being comfortable. She’s terrified of anything that makes her uncomfortable. New people, new math problems, new emotions, the July humidity–all paralyze her.
This terrifies us as parents because the hard teenage years are only a few calendar flips away.
For the past two summers, Cindy and I have been urging Haley to join a summer camp. Soccer, Drama, Arts and Crafts. Anything.
And for two years she’s been thinking about it.
So the other day, without talking to her, Cindy and I signed Haley up for a 5 day, 40 hour soccer camp.
She starts next week.
When we told Haley, she looked up with a pair of big blue eyes rimmed with tears, bit her worried lip and said, “Okay.”
As a parent you do everything in your power to make your children comfortable.
But children need to learn that adversity and discomfort is okay.
It’s how we develop resolve and a stick-with-it-ness that, in our modern world, seems harder to find with each passing day.
So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The conditions will never be in your favor, kid.
I’m fortunate–everyday my broken brain allows me to entertain adversity, discomfort, new sensations.
Yes, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I wish the hole in my brain could be filled so could play 1-on-1 basketball with my kids or ride bikes with them or toss them around the ocean like strong fathers do.
But I will never be 100% and pining for something that will never happen is a childish waste of energy.
So if we know adversity builds character–I know this sounds crazy but–maybe we should be grateful for our troubles, the conditions that make us less than 100%. For those conditions give our life meaning. They provide us with perspective and purpose.
And plus, that 100% feeling– it’s just a lie to sell soda.
Day 5– Go on a staycation—completed.
For me, a staycation was what I needed. I stayed home and worked on the book pretty much all day. At night I sat on the porch, drank a beer, and listened to a the Phillies game on the radio.
Day 6–No smartphone all day–failed.
I stayed off my phone until around 4 pm. Then, without thinking, I turned on my phones and started looking up USB cables on Amazon. Why? Because I live in 2019 and window shopping on my phone from my couch is a thing and plus, in that moment I realized if I had a 30 foot USB cable I could watch the Phillies game on TV, on my porch.
Day 7– Write 3 thank you letters– failed but…
So I decided on three people I want to thank but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I outlined why I want to thank them. Now I just have to sit down and write the letters. It’s easy to mentally or even verbally to thank some one but writing thank you letters takes commitment and patience.
Day 8–Do your max amounts of push-ups, sit-ups, or pull-ups, wait 1 minute, then see how many more you can do– failed but…
I’ve designed an exercise routine that combines barbell weights and therapy exercises. I have also integrated jogging into my exercise routine. I am currently jogging the distance between 3 telephone poles. Given my conditions, I thought it would be best to stick with exercises that I’m doing.
Day 9– Choose a work of fiction to read and finish by the end of the 21 Day Challenge– in progress...
I am reading Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart” because
a) I have never read it before but always wanted to
b) it comes highly recommend as a reference work to use in my own book
Day 10– Reach out to someone you admire– completed
I was lucky enough to schedule lunch with my friend Blake on this day. He is a big man who grew up in Texas. He was once a pastor, but now is a middle-school history teacher and writer. He sends his sons to a Baptist summer camp, words like testify, atone, and salvation pepper his vocabulary and every time I read his writing I’m reminded of how much more work I need to do as a writer.
Here’s his most recent poem: There is No Shame In Being Swallowed by Leviathan.
Day 11– Pick one habit to quit– in progress
Not looking looking at/ mindlessly scrolling through my phone before bed. Lights out means lights out. This is something I put into practice when I started the Challenge. So far so good.
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