Inconsistency is Kicking My Ass
"I have WAY too much going on. It sort of escalated gradually and I didn't sort of realize it as it was happening, but now I'm like - I'm missing appointments and I can't keep stuff straight...Unfortunately, jiu-jitsu, because of the timing of the classes, is one of the first things that gets kind of bumped, and yet it's, I would say jiu-jitsu and music and nature are the three -oh, I guess there's a fourth, and my motorcycle, four like primary sort of zen, mental health, happy place kind of things in my life. And I feel incredibly conflicted with jiu-jitsu because I LOVE it. I mean, I find so much value in it, psychologically and philosophically and physically. And if you were to like, just from a far, look in and observe my consistency in jiu-jitsu, my ability to like show up and to get there, you would never believe me when I told you that." At this point, John Roy, host of the Mentor Podcast (https://open.spotify.com/episode/3MmWgTwoy7woz45jkeUr85?si=KhkvvKBLQ3yvuNHJKPZteQ) jumped in and graciously provided evidence that there might be some consistency somewhere in my fucked up jiu-jitsu journey.
What's most upsetting to me about this rant (besides my long-winded rambling and my compulsion to use the phrase "sort of") is its thematic prevalence in my life. I have always known people who seem to be incredibly consistent and systematic in their approach to hobbies, work, family, and finances - like mother-fucking clockwork. Alas, I have never been on of them.
If I had trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the time I took my first class (1999) until now, I could be a third or fourth degree black belt. In the early 2000's there were some legitimate reasons for my inconsistency. For one, there were no fucking BJJ schools in my area. As it was, I travelled 45 minutes in each direction to attend an academy run by legitimate Machado black belt. Then one day, I showed up for class and the place was gone. I had trained there three fucking days earlier. No warning. No announcement. Just gone, and no other schools in my area. Then, I moved to Muncie, IN. Again, not a BJJ school within an hour of where I lived. Of course, since 2012, I have lived within minutes of multiple BJJ academies. With some consistency, I still could have earned a black belt in the decade between 2012 and 2022. This bullshit pattern transcends far beyond my martial arts journey.
In a previous blog post, I detailed my on again, off again fitness practices (https://www.whatthefkamidoing.com/post/ballad-of-the-fat-personal-trainer). Financially, every time I manage to accumulate comfortable savings, investment, and retirement accounts, I manage to fuck it up in a manner requiring that I start from scratch. Music might be a bigger passion for me than martial arts. As a kid, I spent hours upon hours playing, writing and studying music. Now, there is a drum set, a bass guitar, and three guitars in my house that have not been touched in months and not seriously played in years. I know that journaling is worthwhile practice and I legitimately want to use it as a growth tool. Just last year I finally filled a journal that was given to me for my 30th birthday in two thousand fucking three!!! Throughout the book are weeks' or months' worth of consistent posts separated by years' worth of crickets. Same story with meditation, chess, my podcast, even this blog. In eleven months, this is my eleventh post. I posted five times in January, once in February, once in March, not at all in April, once in May, not at all in June, once in July, not at all in August, and this post I - September, I guess.
I fully understand that prioritizing and getting organized are important parts of staying consistent with various interests and responsibilities. Want to guess what my history with prioritizing and getting organized looks like?
In all honesty, I know what my issue is. I understand why my only really consistent behavior is inconsistency. I just don't know what to do about it. The problem is this: there are two Jerry's (at least) occupying my body and brain. Sadly, neither one is Tyler Durden. That'd be pretty fucking cool. On the other hand, since this is NOT fight club, I guess I get to talk about it.
One Jerry values hard work, challenge and struggle. This Jerry understands that his ego is his enemy and that embracing a growth mindset, sprinting toward challenges, and committing to hard things is the key to a rewarding, fulfilling life. This Jerry gets infatuated with difficult hobbies like chess and BJJ, wants to learn new languages and write books (maybe even in multiple languages). The other Jerry is fucking exhausted. He wants to relax after work, eat sweets, watch television, have a few drinks and go to sleep. Sure, this Jerry might want to stay in shape, but modest shape, not athlete shape like the first Jerry. This Jerry understands the value in rest and the importance of enjoying the moment. This Jerry had compassion for an entire life lived under tremendous inertia and characterized by grief and trauma, even from a very early age. This Jerry can't understand why now, when nobody has died, there is no violence, and things seem relatively good, should we voluntarily impose more hardship in the name of hobby.
The first Jerry responds with the understanding that iron sharpens iron and that fulfillment and satisfaction result from diligence and perseverance. He knows that humility and perpetual beginner's mindset pave the path to excellence and that this pursuit of excellence infuses life with meaning. The second Jerry longs for rest; physical rest, emotional rest, spiritual rest. The second Jerry starves for more silliness, leisure and freedom. Perhaps most of all, the second Jerry feels neglected and abused. From early childhood until now life had been unkind. Hard work and puritanical discipline have been necessary for survival. In times of relative ease, the second Jerry wants to assert his voice by shoving his middle finger right up the ass of discipline, hard work, growth and effort. He wants drinks, vacations, carbs, and light-hearted silliness because his ego has already been beaten to shit and how much more must he endure to prove what? That he is committed to growth? Who gives a fuck?
The first Jerry wants to build the kind of strength that will empower him to actually put down his past and live free in the moment as well as the resilience to walk right through whatever bullshit the universe still has in store for him. The second Jerry wants to rest and relax because who know what bullshit the universe might have in store for him next. By examining my 20-year-old journal or looking at my BJJ class attendance, one could probably tell which Jerry was driving when.
In theory, it seems reasonable that I could get these two Jerrys to cooperate like ebony and ivory (living together in perfect fucking harmony). After all, they are both looking out for my best interest, albeit in different ways. I suspect that if I could create a balance between these competing priorities, I might be able to establish boundaries and guidelines that would keep me consistent with the activities I value most while recognizing the importance of downtime, silliness and play. I imagine joy looking like steady progress toward meaningful goals with a light, unburdened disposition. However, I have never cracked the code for creating a life that balances challenge, discipline, and growth with rest, recovery, and pleasure in a way that fulfills both Jerrys.
Thank you for reading. I will continue working toward balance and hope that sharing this ongoing struggle helps some folks along the way. If you enjoy this blog, please subscribe and share it with your friends and contacts. Also, please like and comment. I am grateful for every one of you.