Editor’s note: This is part of our Pulling the Plug series.
It would be a lie to say that this article has been hard to write. I’ve written it three times. Four, when I’ve finished this draft. Each time the words came freely. And each time, after a five minute reflection, I’ve dismissed the attempt as wasteful, useless or a flat out affront to the honest, introspective truth.
You see, this month I am tasked with talking about sacrifice. What we give up for the season of Lent or what we put aside for our children’s sake. Those things we quit so that we can be better, live longer and make everyone jealous of how awesome we are.
So after three failed attempts, I am left staring into an ugly truth in the mirror. The fact is: I am sick and tired of sacrifice.
Now, let’s be clear, I have gotten GOOD at sacrifice.
I was a smoker. And not a causal, occasional, maybe-just-one-with-this-beer smoker. Marlboro used to send me a Christmas card thanking me for my loyal support. If I could have smoked in the shower, I would have. If I became a regular customer, convenience stores could stop selling gasoline and just focus on me for their profit goals.
But one day, after years of failed, half-hearted attempts to quit, I got my mind right, put them down and haven’t gone back. I do still crave. Daily. But I don’t even have to fight it. Just don’t smoke anymore.
After that, I found I could do lots of things. I’ve now given up soda. ALL soda. More than a year now. I gave up sleep and started going to the gym at 5:30 each morning. (The newborn has stopped that practice for the time being.) Last year I gave up breads for Lent. This year I gave up sweetened pastries for the year though of late I have had several setbacks to be chronicled at a future date. And for Lent this year, I’m off Facebook (except for the two-three times each day I check for direct messages and to see what my wife tagged me in but NO scrolling and reading or posting.
All that and for what? Okay, my risk of lung cancer is decreasing. And I spend far less money on soda (still buy the wife a Coke on occasion). But I should be skinny and stuff by now. I know this gets harder the older I get, but shouldn’t I look at least as good as all these 19-year-olds I see on campus that never sleep, eat pizza and wings for every meal and cheeseburgers for snacks, and stay out drinking and smoking six nights a week?
Now, if ever time travel were invented and I were given a chance to go back and beat some sense into my younger self — to get his ass in gear while he still has metabolism on his side, I would not do that. Time travel should be for those who would kill Hilter, turn the wheel on the Titanic, or convince the Donner party to settle in Missouri. I would let my fat ass be fat. I can get out of bed at 5 in the morning and hit the street running and change my body without scifi.
Truth is, I find excuses to offset my good behaviors with bad. No cookies, cakes, cobblers, donuts, or even candy with a cookie inside? Skittles ain’t got none of that. Doritos? They’re cool.
Worse than that, I blame my kids. Can’t go to the gym before work because the baby needs me. It’s okay to get a shake with the boy at Sonic because he’s a great kid and HE deserves it.
Well, true and true. But I can do better and I don’t need to hide behind them. Besides, I’d rather get a shake with him at 90. And I can go run anytime. I don’t need the gym.
I guess this year I will work not on giving something else up, but on better committing to the bigger goals behind the things I have given up already.
So I’ll recommit to eating right all the time, not just when it is convenient. And I’ll be up, before the girl, long before dawn running and toning and stretching myself, body and mind.
Now … where did I hide those running shoes?