Saturday, January 14, 2006

If I Know What's Good For Me...

...why do I so seldom do it?

I should be getting lots of sleep, eating properly, working out, visiting a lonely friend, reading another friend's manuscript, posting a couple of months' worth of sermons, putting in time at the office, cleaning the house, doing my laundry, and revising my Heirs synopsis. Well, okay, I got almost eight hours of sleep last night, and I did dishes today, and did a Save As on the synopsis so I could do a version of it without the character sketches section. But mostly what I've done today is watch Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, including episodes I've seen before, plus a few episodes of The Flash on DVD; and read parts of Chapters 19 through 23 of Mages of Mâvarin.

Granted, that long list of stuff I haven't done today is a lot to accomplish in a single Saturday. But it's all part of a pattern. I know what I should be doing: the stuff that's good for my body and mind, the stuff I promised to do, the stuff that helps others, the stuff moves me toward my long-term goals. Sometimes I do work on accomplishing these things, but more often I let myself get sucked in to activities that eat up my time and get in the way of my goals.

Furthermore, I bet you do the same.

Now, there are a couple of forces that work against our being the perfect embodiment of self-discipline, doing everything we think we "should" do, and avoiding the time-wasters and unhealthy choices. For one thing, we all need and deserve some down time, some leisure time. Blogging, for example, can be seen as a time-waster, but I for one would enjoy life a lot less were I to give it up. Similarly, watching the unfolding saga of Josie and Vaughn (and true be told, the stories of the adult characters in Strange Days) is such a pleasure that I want to see certain episodes again. And why not? This is my opportunity to see them, now while Discovery Kids is running the marathon every weekend.

The other factor is the path of least resistance, also known as short term gratification. Watching Strange Days is fun. So is rereading Mages, and making the occasional edit or correction. Revamping my synopsis, on the other hand, seems like a daunting and tedious task, because the existing file is organized all wrong. And curly fries taste much better than some kind of low carb, low fat chicken entree. Yes, I know that if I don't improve on the diet and exercise, I'll probably end up with all sorts of obesity-related medical conditions, and end up like my mom. That's much more important than French Dip and curly fries, right? But in the short term, the curly fries will give me pleasure now. They're the easy answer. Dieting and exercise is difficult and problematic and forever, and it might not work, no matter how hard I try. So for today, at least, I reached for the fries.

So how do we overcome the path of least resistance? How do we summon the discipline to do what reason and ethics demand, instead of giving in to the pleasure principle?

Beats me.

But maybe, just maybe, sometimes we can derive pleasure from doing the right things, too. We can be proud of working out, or finishing that project, or getting caught up at the office.

All we have to do is overcome the inertia, long enough to do the right things in the first place.


P.S. Just a reminder: Starting tonight, I've moved on to posting Chapter Two of Heirs of Mâvarin, over on Messages from Mâvarin. (I finished posting Chapter One last week.) Tonight's installment finally sheds light on the mystery of what really happened to Rani Fost. That is, it does so for anyone who actually bothers to read this stuff, and hasn't already figured out the answer!


julie said...

I'm convinced that sometimes we need the inertia. It's kind of a recharge mechanism. I'm not saying that it's good all the time, but I find that if I don't get some downtime once in a while, then it gets forced upon me in the form of a bug that takes me out for several days. As a result, I try to knock off early at least one night a week and go to bed with a good book or play mindless games and listen to music on my iPAQ.

I need to get back out and exercise, but I twisted a knee last week and will be out of commission for a few more days yet. Oh, I love my life sometimes - not. ;-)

Kimberleigh said...

Diet is a four letter word ya know! lo lol lol