This may be the year

January 4th, 2007

Well, this just might be the year!

The year for what? Well, Y’know the year. The year that… uh, that things are… This might be the year that is the year!

Perhaps it’s just a reassuring feeling from the type of unavoidable instantaneous snapshot of incremental development I (along with many other people) engage in during the days in close calendrical vicinity to December 31 and January 1. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking. Maybe my brane is generating false positive emotions in response to a subconscious urge to keep me from lapsing into depression when I analyze the abovementioned development snapshot instead of looking at it through neurochemically shifted perceptions.

Of course, it’s getting a bit deep to wonder if my brane is fooling my mind to make it feel better. I’m fairly confident my scant knowledge of ‘philosophy’ is not sufficient to grapple with such ponderings with a rigorousness that could in any way be referred to as logical. And what’s the point anyway?

Fake it till you make it, right? If I say this is the year- the only thing stopping this from being the year is my initiative to make it the year. All I have to do is take the bull by the horns and pull myself up by my own bootstraps!. Luck, as they say is an acronym for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge. The good Lord helps those who help themselves according to common folk knowledge.

At least I keep telling myself that.

I do, however, have some evidence to show that I am making some sort of progress in personal development. This, though, is not as much actual improvement as the negation of backsliding- so that I am working to get back to where I was in hopes of, at some point in the future, using the momentum of newly formed good habits to slingshot me ahead into the realms of actually getting ahead.

OK, so there goes a nicely circumlocutious paragraph, eh?

I typed it, though, and that’s better than I’ve done in a long time. Actually, we’ll see if it’s better when I actually finish this item and post it. I have a pile of draft items that languish unfinished as bits of ASCII text in MySQL database tables on one of my web host’s hard disks.

If I can make it all the way through this one, paste it into the text area on the upload page and click the ‘submit’ button with the ‘publish’ checkbox checked- why this just might be the year after all!

For a while now I have been noticing that the dimensions of my abdomen have been increasing at an alarming rate. My waist measurement hasn’t changed much, but recently I have to look in a mirror to see whether or not I’m wearing a belt. Which is to say in a roundabout way- I’m no longer getting fat, I have attained that attribute in a qualitative way. I am fat.

I guess what made me realize this concretely was an incident that occurred last Sunday afternoon December 31.

After church we had gone out to lunch at Red Lobster using two gift cards my employer had given me- one for my birthday last September and the other a yearly xmas gift each employee receives. Anyway, when we got home my stomach was well filled and I was feeling rather lazy. Not that I wanted to be lazy, I actually wanted to accomplish something, but just as I was talking above about my brane influencing my mind, my body frequently plays similar tricks and after getting both the boys in their rooms and ‘napping’ I sat down in front of the computer with the intent to begin work on an item for this very publication.

Instead I found myself pointing my browser at SMF TV, a newly discovered favorite website that streams old Hanna Barbera classics- cartoons like Huckleberry Hound, Johnny Quest, and the one that grasped my attention in a particular way- The Flintstones.

When I was a kid I don’t ever remember feeling a special fondness for The Flintstones. It was just another one of the many cartoons that was such a foundational part of the fabric of my young life. However, I have always liked the show. It’s very hard not to, in fact, because the bottom line is that The Flintstones (at least in the earlier seasons before it undeniably jumped the shark) is just flat-out good stuff. It’s a quality product. If my memory is correct, it was the first prime time cartoon. One of the things that made it different than so much of the dreck that came after it was that it was not really created for the kiddies. It is totally accessible to kids, but there are many themes in it that only truly speak to adults. Kids can understand that Fred thinks his job is a drag and wants to be rich so he doesn’t have to work, but it’s only as a grown-up that the all the subtle nuances, all the real texture and feeling of such ideas really make this cartoon resonate as truth.

I may be getting a bit carried away here, but I think if you somehow dig up some of the best stuff (the first season (arguably among the best) is now out on DVD and I have added it’s acquisition to the heaping pile of 200-300 other $30-$40-ish things that I want but know I probably won’t be getting anytime soon) and if you are not a died-in-the-wool cartoon hater I am confident you will at least be able to sense what I’m talking about even if you disagree in the value of the show.

Take for example the last episode of the first season. A tv commercial producer accosts Fred in the street and asks him if he wants to be on tv. Of course, Fred jumps at the chance to be in a ‘before and after’ commercial for a weight reducing product. Unfortunately he discovers that he is not the after guy, but the before guy only when the commercial airs to the houseful of friends Fred has invited over to see his tv premier.

When Wilma drags Fred to the tv station to insist that the commercial be pulled permanently, the producer of the commercial gets the idea to challenge Fred to lose twenty-five pounds in one month and win a thousand dollars.

All that build-up and background brings us to the part of the show that really woke me up (in more than one way- I was dozing a bit as I watched). As soon as Fred accepted the challenge, he got on a scale.

Now throughout the entire run of the show, Fred, the eponymous star of the show was referred to as being fat. In fact it was a running joke that he was fat, but didn’t think he was. Someone would make a comment about his weight and he’d suck in his gut, puff out his chest, and loudly proclaim “I am not fat!” Now I don’t go around telling everyone I’m not fat. I actually self-deprecatingly joke with my family sometimes about how I’m getting fat- not necessarily thinking I am actually FAT, but that if I’m not careful I will be.

Again, I suppose it’s possible I’m reading too much into a cartoon from almost fifty years ago, but I realized I am no longer getting fat- I am fat when the producer’s assistant read the scale Fred had just climbed onto. Fred weighed two-hundred twenty pounds.

Yeah, you say. Two-twenty- he’s a fat guy. So?

The fact that I AM fat hit me like a shillelagh when the skinny cel-animated guy read off the number two-hundred twenty and I realized that though I haven’t weighed myself in a long, long time, I weighed more than two-twenty when I didn’t even think I was getting fat. Now, maybe I’m a little taller than Fred (it’s hard to know the true height of a cartoon character) and maybe I have a little more muscle density then he does (I did a semester of weight training in college and though I don’t exercise regularly and I have lost most of the muscle tone I once had, I still have more muscular development than someone who never even contemplated a bench press- again it’s hard to tell with cartoon characters, but you see my point) but fact is he was full-on fat at a weight that was lower than mine when I didn’t consider myself fat.

That was when I decided that I needed to start some regimen of physical activity. I decided that I would begin walking at least an hour- every day. This may not sound like much, but it’s more than 1X10E1000 times more than nothing. Additionally, I don’t mean the stately gate your septuagenarian neighbor Gert uses to meander around the top level of the mall in the morning before all the stores open, either. When I walk to walk, I walk.

Yeah, I thought, that’s what I’ll do- I’ll walk! It will be slow work, but it will be a start. But, Roger, when will I do it? Hmmm, well, I guess the only real time I have to do it is in the morning. I’ll start getting up about an hour and a half (half an hour for a shower) early and walking and hour (at least) a day.

Oh, super thinking, Mate. Good idea. Start tomorrow? No, I’ll be up past midnight tonight. I’m gonna take the 1st off and hit it hard on Tuesday. Right on!

And right after that congratulatory and exhortational internal dialog, I went back to 30% watching cartoons and 70% dozing, joining the entire rest of the population of our household- including back porch cats.

Ok, you say to me, you think this is the year because you are thrilled to announce to all of us that you are two for two and have got your lazy self up and gone walking two days in a row, right? Congratulations- that’s great, Man!

To which I reply: Uh, not exactly…

See, yesterday morning it felt so good lying in bed and I was having this cool dream- complete with exotic locations and car stunts and, well… I didn’t go walking. I did, however, get up in time to get my lunch and stuff together and be ready for my ride without having to scurry around and get frustrated looking for stuff at the last minute.

Uh huh, you say skeptically, what about the walking thing?

About the walking thing I am proud to announce that (am pretty sure for the first time in my life) I got up before the sun and went for a good, hard, hour long walk. Yes- yes, I actually did and I am pretty proud of it. Even though I took a few more minutes getting all my physical and mental systems spun-up outside of their normal operational envelopes than I intended and therefore only had about forty-five minutes to walk instead of the full sixty, I filled those forty-five minutes with all the long-striding, hardcore walking I could. I measured my route on google earth when I got to work- 2.56 miles. When you divide 2.56 miles by forty-five minutes you get 5.68 miles per hour which is a pretty good clip.

So I am actually doing something. It may not be a great deal. I may be pulling a cow’s tail instead of grabbing a bull by the horns, but hey- I got myself out of bed an hour early today. Even if I didn’t go walking that (for me) is an impressive achievement.

Day one, I thought about it and decided not to- for good reasons (when you have a dream in which you get to drive a car over a big jump- stay asleep!).

Day Two- 100% Success!

That is progress. Now if I can just keep it going, this might just be the year!