When your world starts to fluctuate wildly and the variables change more times than you can count, it is time to counter with some consistency.
There are immense advantages and benefits to be gained from setting and executing a successful, consistent, effective routine. This is about more than just organization. It is about exercising power and control over what is otherwise chaos and confusion. It is about more than just focusing on time and activity; it is really a way to harness emotions, memories, energy, positivity, negativity. It channels the restless soul and gives it an opportunity to express the excess. For someone like me who is constantly on the road, I know that there is a very good chance that every time I look outside it will be a different locale, a different environment, a different situation. I will wake up in a different city. I will drive or fly or take a train and be someplace completely different. At first it will be exciting and the thrill of the unknown will take over and you, like I, will be enticed and seduced by the unpredictable nature of constant travel.
But the road is long and the soul gets weary. Your body starts to crave some sort of familiarity, some knowledge to be able to prep and handle the challenges of the day. We are creatures of pattern and habit. We like to look for order where there is none. We seek patterns to justify the past and predict the future. Dipped into too much chaos, we freak out and strike back. Order from chaos is one of man’s greatest obstacles and is considered one of man’s greatest victories. We all need some semblance of routine.
I think the reason why the travel and the job seem to be taking a greater toll on me this past week is because I have not yet figured out an effective enough routine that I can faithfully and regularly execute within possibility. I can see the inklings of what it is I want to be able to do and accomplish in a day and I have an idea of when I would like to do it but no routine keeps me in check. No routine holds me accountable for the events of the day. No routine guides me out of recklesssness and abandon to drive against the tide of the world. I am listless and lack direction. I want to do something, but I don’t know what, and then I feel guilty for having done nothing in the interim. What happens after my workday? When I have visited my stores, trained my agents, what do I do with the day to a) feel accomplished b) take care of myself both physically and mentally c) appreciate my opportunities and surroundings and d) give myself a chance to process all of these pent up emotions and pain.
Doing something for yourself is important. Allowing yourself to indulge in some pleasures, some activities that bring happiness, is never a bad thing within reason. This is by no means a license for lascivious self-indulgence. It is simply an important note to remember the things that make us happy and that we can do on our own for ourselves. Travel in and of itself can already be a source of happiness and pleasure but when a lot of it is for work, it is important to steal away a few moments to appreciate it for what it is. In Philly I visited the Magic Gardens. Had a cheesesteak. Walked along the waterfront. In Boston I explored the downtown area, went to Faneuil Hall. Next week when I go off to Fort Lauderdale, I won’t visit the beach, as I am not a beach person, but I will explore the area, as I’ve never been to that part of Florida. When I am home, I enjoy watching movies, hanging out with friends, or yes, shamelessly, I do also enjoy going shopping for new clothes. I may be a lonely man, but I am a well-dressed lonely man. During the weekends I make sure to spend one day with family and the other with friends. During the work week it is right after work, which incentivizes me to work fast and start early to capitalize on as much time as possible, that I explore my surroundings and commit myself to spending time outside and not curled up in my hotel room.
It is by now readily apparent I believe that I am also an avid culinarian. I dislike the term ‘foodie’ for a myriad of reasons that I may indulge myself in explaining in the future but for the time being suffice to say that I prefer ‘culinarian’ as a more all-encompassing term to mean someone who not only appreciates food for the sensory pleasures but also appreciates the art of cooking and preparing and the culture and practice of good food and drink. Good food is nourishing for the body and the soul. When I travel I don’t seek out the familiar or the safe. I want local, I want authentic, I want it within my company allowance but apparently sometimes that’s too much to ask. I have loved the fact that I can discover delicious, honest, genuine pho in Catonsville, MD. Or that an elderly Korean couple has maintained what has become a hub for scattered Koreans and adventurous eaters in Lawrence, MA. I loved my experience at the Old Ebbitt Grill in DC, one of the cities oldest establishments. The wood in the bar expresses so many stories just from resting against it. When I am sent to Pittsburgh I know I will be both well fed and broke. When at home, I love to cook. I take the opportunity to be back in a kitchen to work out some emotions through my cooking. Emotional cooking is good cooking. Unless you’re angry. Then everything becomes spicier. Before I head out for another assignment, I use the weekend to explore the areas I will be in and find the restaurant I will go to each night. It is nice to have that promise of a warm, filling, nourishing meal to propel me through the day.
I know I’m a big guy. I definitely stand to lose a few pounds. When I am on the road it seems even more difficult to find opportunities to stay healthy and exercise when in reality, I think it is probably the best thing to help me get to my goals. For one, because I focus so much on that meal after work, I don’t bother with lunch. And secondly, every hotel I stay in has a 24 hour fitness center free for me to use. So I should absolutely avail myself of this resource. I have sporadically found myself in and out of them on occasion, but I need to set a more consistent routine to promise myself that I will put myself in that room and exert a genuine amount of strain and effort and work however gradually, towards my goal. It is easier at home and more enjoyable as I have my martial arts school which I have been attending for the past 19 years. Martial arts is quite literally an exercise for the body and the mind. You are training both simultaneously and I feel so incredibly powerful and accomplished after a good practice. I kind of seriously can’t stand, alright I HATE, standard cardio. UGH. But whatever. They have elliptical machines that are easier on my knees and they TVs in the room. I can do this. And I should. Exercise is important. We can’t always be about what makes us feel good in the moment. The truth is today we are a society almost unilaterally and solely about immediate gratification. This is no surprise and I don’t want to indulge in cliches but…it’s undeniably there. Exercise is a promise. Exercise is an investment. The time you give yourself in the day to take care of your body will pay off in the long run. And when you spend a good majority of your day sitting in the driver’s seat or on a train or on a plane, it is important to work out those tired bones. Plus, it is a reminder that you are thinking of your future and reminds you that you have something to look forward to as you move ever forward.
Okay, it’s 3am. That’s enough for today. I have one more store visit and then another 300 miles to drive. Remind me that ‘getting enough sleep’ needs to be on this self-help and self-care routine eventually. Part 2 tomorrow! Looking forward to writing it. I think we’re onto a winner here, dear readers.
Man: 12 Loneliness: 4