Friday, December 24, 2010
Shiny New Toys
Being a parent, I'm reminded annually of the allure of shiny new toys on Christmas Day, and the slow decline in disinterest that takes place in the weeks to come. Legos are replaced by Bakugan which are replaced by Bey Blades which are.... You get the picture. In the end, it all just becomes plastic stuff that you step on in the dark when you go to wake your kids up in the morning. Walking meditation through a Hasbro minefield.
But, the kids get it honest. I'm the king of enamor. No place is this more evident than with the activities I desire to make daily habits: meditation, running, yoga, vegetarianism. When I first entered into making these behaviors part of my daily life I was like a newly baptized teenager, racing around with salvation tracts, handing them out to unwitting neighbors. In short, I was bordering on being a real pain in the ass with my enthusiasm. Being a runner, a vegetarian, et al, was a badge of honor, and I lived it 24/7. From training for a half-marathon to taking the Veg Pledge, I was living right and eager to proclaim it.
Here's the rub, though. What goes up must come down. I know it's true because I heard it in that Blood, Sweat, and Tears song. So, after the half-marathon, after you've worn out the vegetarian cookbook and the Arby's drive thru is the only thing available when you're starving, you start to compromise. Then, you start to make exceptions. You shut your mouth a little more about how exciting your new lifestyle is...and then you go back to your old habits.
It's like Albert Brooks says in "Broadcast News", when the devil comes back, he won't have a pointy tail and horns, he'll just slip in and slowly lower our standards, bit by bit.
So, what's the answer? To me, as I look at the things I want to do - make running part of my regular fitness regiment again, meditate daily, limit my meat intake - it's about that old Buddhist axiom of "Beginner's Mind". Everything that feels 'been there done that' has got to feel shiny and new again. The trick is finding that narrow, middle path between exuberance for making a positive life choice and the all-too-human tendency to get too bored with it too quickly and talk yourself out of your decision.
Tomorrow, my kids will unwrap some shiny new toys. I suspect by late January they'll lay strewn in hidden corners of the house, shrapnel from the famous Battle of Christmas 2010. I hope that as I try to navigate my way along this Eightfold Path of being more present, more engaged with my daily choices that I don't find that, come Groundhog Day, they're scattered to the wind.
So, what positive behaviors do you struggle to keep a part of your daily or weekly regiment? What techniques or tricks do you use to insure that you follow through?