Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I often make the mistake when looking into the mirror of making excuses for what I see - or of fixating my thoughts on what I will look like someday after I have done a lot of vigorous exercise. I've been in shape before. I just don't seem to be able to stay in shape for any length of time. It might have something to do with my love of chocolate, pastries, and chocolate pastries. Or, perhaps it’s just due to lack of exercise. So, maybe instead of doing positive affirmations in front of the mirror where I try to love my body just as it is and spend time accepting myself and all of my imperfections, I should look in the mirror and say, "My butt is enormous. Holy crap. My butt is *huge*. How did my butt get *so* big?" (Uh... err... I guess that *is* what I say...) If only I could just even out the fat in my body so that it was more proportionately distributed! I know exercise would do me good, but I have a lot of trouble staying disciplined about it. In fact, discipline is *hard* for me. *Really* hard.

But, what good would it do me to, say, write 100 times on the blackboard, "I will not allow myself to slide into a den of sloth."? Or, sit at my desk with my head down thinking about what a bad person I am for not keeping good track of my finances? Or, make myself do 100 push-ups in a public place with a giant sign next to me that reads, "I am atoning for my sins. If you'd like to help, please sit on me."? Or, do 50 laps around my work building with a sign on my back that says, "Kick me - please!"? Discipline does not come naturally to me. I am prone to let inertia take over. I am predisposed to bouts of impulsivity.

Discipline is what makes you decide to ride your bike instead of drive your car. It is what makes you get up early to go for a run instead of sleeping in. It is what makes you decide you really can't spend money today, no matter how good that avocado sandwich looks. It is what makes you decide you need to wait and buy that book at the used bookstore -- or better yet, get it out of the library. Discipline helps you to hold your tongue - to think of the consequences of what you're saying. Discipline is what gets you to pay the bills, make that doctor's appointment, do your chores, change your oil, spend less time surfing the internet at work... Discipline is what gets you to be better at keeping in touch with your family and friends.

What does discipline mean to you?


Ian said...

To me, discipline means paddles. And leather.

Just kidding.

Suze said...

ian, ew.

discipline means working on my paper and not reading blogs. urg.

Steph said...

I read a good quote from Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love, great book) in which she said that discipline can turn into another trap, that she relates better to the concept of steadfastness. I like that. The things I have to do regularly, like write, do yoga, meditate, housework--it's so easy to feel like a complete loser when I don't do them every day. Discipline is like a wagon I'm always falling off of. Steadfastness--that's a concept that causes me less anxiety. Like, I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't do yoga seven days a week. I'll try to do it, say, four days a week, and then if I happen to do a fifth, it's a bonus. I think that's a better life-long strategy, probably.

Andre said...

Bolcom was once asked in one of the comp. seminars at Michigan about how to get "famous" in the composition world. . . a problematic question to be sure. . but he responded, "Just stick with it for thrity years and you'll be famous."

And then there's Cage who said to Schoenberg that he wanted to committ himself to composition, though he had no ear for harmony. Schoenberg is to have told him that composing would be challenging for him, like coming up against a wall. Whereupon Cage said that, if that is so, then I commit myself to beating my head up against that wall. . . lovingly and patiently I hope. =)

I just have to keep trying. . that's all. But trying to conform to someone else's vision of discipline hurts my spirit and, to draw out Cage's story, my head. Make a discipline of loving yourself, even when you don't feel like it.

Awesome book along these lines: Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg. And pretty much anything Marianne WIlliamson. I've never completed any of Williamsons' books, but I'm curious enough to recommend them to you.
my best.

Jake said...

Hear hear, Steph! That's a great way of looking at it. I, too, feel like discipline is this great albatross that I'll never be able to shake. I've never been particularly good at it, and when I do things to try to learn new habits (like kung fu), I inevitably fall away from that as well. I'm gonna have to try reframing my thinking as you suggest...