Lucas Weismann

On Returning To Something You Once Loved

Sometimes coming back to something is like coming out of a hibernation.  Take anything, a sport you love, going back to school or even writing. If it’s been a long time, you’re probably feeling aches and pains.  You might feel like you’re moving through molasses or honey.  That’s no real surprise.  You haven’t used those muscles or those neurons in a long time and it takes a while to get back into the swing of things.

After awhile however, things warm up and you’re going to start feeling good.  Really good.  This is something you love after all!  It’s amazing to hit that ball, throw that opponent, or get those words on paper.   You now want to do the thing!  Great!  Don’t go nuts.

“What? But I haven’t been doing anything!  I haven’t gotten off my butt in so long!  How am I supposed to catch up?”

Short answer:  You’re not.  Lost time is lost.  Just accept it.  You had other things that were more important to you at the time.  Video Games, The Netflix Original Series Marco Polo, or some member of whatever sex/gender combination you are attracted to.  Congratulations.  You spent that time.  You’re not getting it back.

The worst thing you can do when re-introducing stuff back into your life is to overdo it right away.  Why?  There are a few reasons:

  1. You could pull something.  Yes, even metaphorically.  You need to warm up before you can be at your old strength.  Sorry, that’s just the penalty you pay.
  2. You might uncover old patterns that lead to your burnout (if that’s why you took a break).
  3. You’re likely to exhaust yourself without having built up a reserve.

Part of your goal now is to build up a habit and make it stick longer than it did before.  Your goal is consistency, not marathon power sessions.  So, here’s what you do:

  1. Limit your time.  Leave yourself wanting more.
  2. Tell people how excited you are to be doing the thing.  People knowing you’re doing something will make them ask you about it when they see you, so telling people you see often will not only make you more interesting than if you’re just gossiping about celebrity nonsense like the rest of the people at the watercooler, it will also make them have something to ask you specific to you.
  3. Set a goal.  Goals come later, but right know just know it needs to have a specific “win” state.  We’ll work more on setting goals in a future thing.

Okay, these are some basic guidelines I recommend as someone who has taken breaks from things I love and returned to them sometimes, years later.  What things in your life do you wish you hadn’t given up?  Which things would you rather do than watch movies?  Maybe try one of them for a bit and see what happens.

Benji the Wrestler

As a young child I had a lot of problems dealing with bullies and rumors and kids at school.  That’s not a revelation unique to myself, I realize.  Most people have.  But I was lucky in one major respect.  That is that my dad had a technique for helping me to cope with these situations, while at the same time instilling a love of wrestling for me.

Enter:  Benji the Wrestler.

Benji was a kid who wrestled.  He was a lot like me.  He was so much like me that it seemed a strange and amazing coincidence every time I heard a story about him.  (Okay, I’m gonna level with you- he was me.)

Every time I seemed to be going through something tough- a bully trying to beat me up, or turn my friends against me for whatever reasons motivate people to be awful to each other, there would be my dad.  He’d come to my room at bedtime and tell me a story.

The story had three main parts:

1) the problem (the bullies, the “mean” teacher, whatever it was that was making my life hard to deal with as a kid),

2) the “Problem-solving part” This almost always came in the form of my dad asking me something like “Sounds pretty tough Luke, what do you think Benji should do here?” afterward we’d workshop any solutions, no matter how sensible or senseless or emotive and he’d treat me with understanding.  He also never talked down to me as a kid and I really appreciated that.  Heck, I still appreciate it.

3) The action sequence.  This was super important!

A) it served to give me time to absorb what we’d talked about, all while preventing the stories from becoming lectures or preachy.

B) it indoctrinated me into loving the sport and associating a difficult pastime with positive memories

C) It showed that even a kid with problems at school could (with hard word and determination), be the hero.  It would be a challenge, sure, but since Benji never gave up, no one could really beat him.  (Even if he lost a match, he wasn’t truly defeated so long as he maintained a good attitude).

I miss those stories.  In retrospect, I miss how these insurmountable problems could be faced and I could take the time with someone who cares about me to work through options together rather than having to face them alone. I miss the reminders of how you can work around any problem if you find the right solution rather than just reaction to it.  Not surprisingly, I also miss wrestling.

 

Another Winter Gone – 15

“No.”

The word wasn’t shouted, but that didn’t make it any less of a command.  Marcus, lean for his age and wearing the blue and white singlet that had been handed down to him by his father paused in the middle of his wind up.  He’d suffered a humiliating and embarrassing defeat at the hands of an Jeffrey Linkletter.  Linkletter.  The guy’s name could be mistranslated as “Apostrophe” for gosh sakes.  But Marcus recognized the tone.  He lowered the head gear he’d been about to throw into the bleachers with what he just knew would be a satisfying bang.

“What do you think you’re doing?” His father asked.

“What d-“

“Who do you think you are?”  Great, first the tone, now parental clichés.

“I only just…”  The frustration was causing pressure to well up behind his eyes with the injustice of the world.  He wanted to say that he was only twelve years old, that Jeffrey was a fish and shouldn’t have been able to beat him and that the ref had been unfair.  He clenched his fists in frustration.

“Unclench your fists.”

“I can’t even be angry now?”  What was Dad’s deal today, God!

“Marcus, you can feel any way you want.  That doesn’t matter in the long run.  What people will remember.  What you will remember about today is how you react.  You lost.  Guess what?  It happens.  Should you have lost by getting rolled through from that headlock as you were pinning him in the first eight seconds of the match?  No.  Of course not.  That’s your move.  You own it.  No one gets out of you.  At least they haven’t for a long time, until today.  Why’d it happen?”

This was what Marcus had been trying to avoid.  Blame.  He hated being blamed for things.

“Because I got too high and put weight in my butt instead of keeping it up and using leverage.”  The words sounded dejected.  Like a kid being forced to recite a bible verse when the minister drops by for a Sunday meal.

“Right.”

“How do you feel?”

“Stupid.  Angry.  Like a loser.”

“Do you like that feeling?”  Marcus pulled a face.

“No.  Of course I hate it.”

“Good.  What are you going to do about it.”

“Well I was going to throw my head gear and feel better about it.”  Marcus said.

“And what would that have helped?”

“Well, I would have felt better.”

“Sure, but what about after the first five seconds.”  Marcus thought about it.  He tossed his head like he was trying to get a bothersome fly to leave him alone.  “I’d have felt stupid.”

“Why?”

“Because I hate when people throw their headgear and stomp and act like little kids about losing, but Dad, I am a little kid.”

“135 lbs isn’t that little Marcus.  And it’s not like there’s a day when you will suddenly feel like you’re old enough to be mature.”

“Yeah, but”

“The only way.  The only way to be more mature- or improve yourself in any way- is to act as if you already have the good quality you want.”

“You mean like, if I want to be honest I have to tell the truth as if I’m already an honest person even if I’m used to ‘stretching’ the truth?”

“For example, yeah.”  Marcus looked a bit sheepish.  When he was younger, he’d been prone to tall tales and prevarication like most kids, but his ability to be funny enough to avoid trouble didn’t develop until much later.  His dad smiled kindly at him.

“Huh.” Marcus thought for a moment, “So basically, you’re saying that if I want to have good sportsmanship I have to start doing it now.”

“Sportsmanship matters a little when you win, but it matters a whole lot more when you lose.  That’s one of the reasons we do sports Mark.  We’re all gonna lose in life at some point or other- maybe a lot.  But it’s how we act when we lose that determines whether we get back up for another try and how much people want to help us when we go for another try.”

“Right, cause anyone can be tough when they win.”

“Right.”

“But only someone really tough can be tough when they lose.”

“Exactly.  You got it.  Now, what are you gonna do now?”

“I’m gonna focus and get ready for my next match so I can pin this guy and come back in the round robin.”

“Right.  You mad?”

“Yeah.”

“Good.  Use it.  Let it build slowly into focus so you can win.  I want you to visualize how the match will go, what you’re gonna do and what he’s gonna do and I want you to get psyched up starting about 15 minutes before you get called.  Start warming up when they call the 112’s okay?”

“Okay dad.”


 

Marcus couldn’t remember whether he’d won the next match or been out of the tournament.  I was fairly certain that they’d gone out for ice cream after the match, just as he would do with his son Jack 20 years later.  He thought about that lesson once in awhile and was glad he’d learned how to get up gracefully when he got knocked down.

There had been knocks much more difficult than losing to Linkletter and it was good he’d inoculated himself against them early in life.  All in all he was glad he didn’t grow up to be the kind of guy who would throw his headgear.

RE: Henry Rollins and Anger

One of my favorite current thinkers is former frontman for the band Black Flagg. He’s humble, he’s enlightened and he’s angry. He has a fury that drives him to get up on stage and be big and bombastic in front of crowds night after night.

He finds ways of saying things that make me question what I think I know, connects with the inner bullied-kid in me and hits my anti-authoritarian streak hard. In many ways, he’s like a less-bitter more down-to-earth George Carlin.

And I get it. I am able to channel anger through him that I can’t seem to access on my own.

That’s what I’m having a hard time with. My own lack of anger.

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