I lather my nose with sunscreen and even before I’m done rubbing it in, I grab my water bottle and put it under the spigot. I know that it takes about 20 seconds in total for the water bottle to fill up so I know in that time I can run into my room, grab my bag, fill it with the essentials, rub in the rest of the sunscreen, and be back to the spigot just in time to turn it off before the bottle overflows. I know that I’ll soon be on my bike so I might as well hold off on chugging the gatorade until I’m on the two wheels to maximize time. I push off and on the glide down the street, I crack the gatorade and down the whole thing right as I’m riding past the trash bin at the corner of the street - tossing in the empty. Right before clipping in though, I start my Strava and click play on the podcast, ramping it to 2x speed and I’m off.
I’m a psycho when it comes to time management. If I woke up at 9:02 on a Saturday but I was hoping to wake up at 9 then I know I’m already two mins behind schedule and that irks me internally - you’re crazy. If I know I have a 4pm meeting and it takes me 40 minutes to get there from downtown then I know I can make two calls on the ride and I’ll call the people I know that I can control the length of the conversation and fit both in; you’re losing your mind. You’re 29 years old and you expect to be a certain place in your life by the time you’re 35. You know that you have 2,190 days (6 years) to get there. You treat every day as a meaningful part of that journey - that includes flying red-eyes so as not to miss a day or packing in every second of the day to maximize productivity - Eric, chill out. These are my battles, these are my internal struggles. We all fight our own demons…until we learn to live with them or are forced into a situation to SLOW. IT. DOWN.
Racing Your Ghost and Setting a New Record
I got hip surgery recently and based on my relationship with time, you can imagine how much I struggled with “relax and recovery.” This stems from both neurosis of time scarcity as well as frustration with physical inadequacy. The only way to combat these feelings is to look at recovery as a game - like Mario Kart- where you have to race your ghost to beat your record. Knowing what expectations are for the masses on time to recover from Hip Arthroscopy surgery, I set myself on the path to beat those norms and get back quicker then most. As step one of that challenge, I needed rest. I justified Netflix as a positive thing for both psyche and the hip joint. I saw horizontal time as a regenerative effort and I imagined every minute with an ice pack as time that my joint was thanking me. Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward.
Stage Two: Drills and Skills
Physical Therapy is to exercise as reading kindergarten books is to devouring historic literary novels. You know you can achieve a higher level but you have to start back at square one. It’s a slow and tedious climb. One step at a time, one additional squat, add some resistance and stay patient. Driving to Physical Therapy, doing 60 minutes of banal leg lifts, driving to work (or home) and repeating that twice a week; its brutal. It’s a routine mangler. It felt like a waste of time but I continued to remind myself of the saying, “If you want to build a house, set out to lay each brick perfectly and before you know it, you’ll have a house.”
Stage Three: Finding Your Shortcuts
Three months post operation, I knew that I couldn’t get back to the things that I loved the most: team sports like Basketball. In fact, I don’t know if my hip will ever allow me to get back to Basketball due to the impact - but I had to find some other way to build strength, fuel my competitive juices and feel a sense of physical accomplishment. I constantly felt like I was losing against myself and the “field” was getting better. It’s like a schizophrenic who thinks there are monsters in his closet yelling at him to go faster - that’s me with the feeling of losing. In an effort to fund my competitiveness, I got back on the bike and chose to race myself on my 12 mile beach path until I learned how to shave off seconds of my time with the right angles and shortcuts - Koopa Troopa Beach style…
Step Four: Reflection improves Understanding
When people told me it would take a year to fully settle into the new job, I scoffed. When people told me it would take six months to recover fully from the surgery, I scoffed. When people tell me it will take a lifetime to fully understand, I scoff. It’s the way I’m wired. I challenge everything, I’m persistent as all hell and I’m generally impatient to the point of delusion. It’s not until I look back on an experience that I typically acknowledge the fact that I didn’t know what I didn’t know and that good things take time. Whether in relationships, recovery, or success - you can’t shortcut time, you can’t always maximize it. You have to let it run it’s natural course and appreciate the steady pace.