Once upon a time, in a land far far away, lived a little boy who learnt at an early age the term “I don’t want to” , led to not having to do anything. As he got older the term “I can’t” replaced “I don’t want to” and a legacy was born that several decades later has become exceedingly hard to break.
I wrote yesterday that I refused to make any resolutions beyond 1 on New Years Eve. The only resolution I made was to take 1 step each day. Aiming at clearing away the clutter that haunts my life. The cemetery of broken promises I’ve made to myself, and the graves of a million goals never achieved.
Yesterday I began to right the wrongs I’ve done to myself. Well, that’s not particularly true. 3 days ago I quit smoking, again. I had recently quit smoking for about 6 weeks. Since then, every time the going got tough, the tough gave in and had a cigarette. “I can’t” became the motto, despite the evidence to the contrary. I can. I did. I can and will do it again.
Yesterday, I began to exercise. See, I knew I’d put on a bit of weight since I lost my job in June. It was obvious. It was even more obvious when you get to the point where only 1 pair of shorts and a pair of track pants fit. The dreaded “fat shorts”. Most of the people I know who have been over weight, lost it all and then put it back on keep their Skinny Jeans. The jeans they used as a measure of success during their diet. There’s even an episode of Sex in the City dedicated to Miranda fitting back into her skinny jeans after the birth of her son.
For me it’s the dreaded fat shorts. I know I’ve done something stupid when the only thing I can comfortably wear are my fat shorts. As 2013 drew to a close, the term “comfortably wear” was definitely false advertising. When your fat shorts are leaving a mark in your gut, you know it’s time to either replace your wardrobe or get to taking care of yourself.
Yesterday I managed to ride my ancient old exercise bike for about 12 minutes. Today I managed to huff, puff and sweat my way through 15 minutes. The exercise bike is old. My Great-Uncle made it himself and the speedometer on it, is in miles. Today I rode at 10 miles an hour for 1 Kylie Minogue song, 20 miles an hour for the 2nd, back to 10 mile for the 3rd and the final song was again at 20 miles an hour.
While I was pedalling nowhere and telling myself this would all work out in the end something occurred to me. I’d woken up this morning feeling off-colour. Nauseated, delicate stomach, head ache. I knew what it was. I had it recently. It was the final fight of the nicotine as the levels drop to next to nothing and your body starts to remove toxins that have taken up residence inside you.
The first thing I thought today was “I can’t”. I can’t exercise. I can’t do anything. By mid afternoon however I thought “I can’t not do this. I made a promise to myself. I committed to only one thing; to take 1 step every day towards getting my life back on track. If I give up today, I’ll always do it.”
As I lip-synched along to Kylie Minogue like a bicycle obsessed drag queen, a thought came into my head, fully formed. It was just what I needed to hear. Here it is;
Excuses are easy; actions are harder
Excuses get you the life you deserve.
Actions, the life you earn
Given past experience, I’ve got no doubt I’ll face off against “I can’t” again. “I can’t” has been in my life pretty much longer than anything else on earth. I know it will take time to overcome all the past years of excuses. I just need to remember what excuses bring me. I’ve got 40 years of proof to fall back on for that.
When I think “I can’t” from now on, what I need to remember is “well, you can’t if you’re going to sit and watch TV all day, that’s right. Get moving and let’s see if you really can or not.”