Balance Through Imbalance

I seem to have my epiphany moments at odd times and a lot of them seem to come during my morning commute.  While part of it is likely due to the fact that I almost always do that commute with no music or radio on, I think it’s also likely due to the fact that it’s easier to let your mind be open to think about things instead of watching the utter madness of how my fellow humanity drives.  Come on, people… get it together out there!

My latest piece of highway inspiration caught me off guard a little bit, truth be told, because it stood on its head a lot of what I’ve been pondering in terms of creating a better life for myself… because the moment of clarity was all about how I need to possibly get myself out of balance to achieve balance.  A tad bit counterintuitive, to say the least.


Up to this point, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I need to achieve some kind of well-structured harmony of my mind, body and spirit… and that’s still my end goal.  The “A ha!” moment came with the stark realization that my process of achieving that goal was quite likely all out of whack.  I’ve been in a mode of thinking that I needed to treat mind, body and spirit equally in my pursuit of the noble balance, but there’s a pretty significant chance I am not currently balanced equally in those 3 areas anyway.  Maybe I am at 50% body, 35% mind and 15% spirit in terms of where I pay the most attention or where I have achieved the most amount of progress.  Nothing about that would approximate the equally divided personal growth pie of 33.3%, 33.3% and 33.3%.

I can practically sense a few doubters reading this and thinking, “How is it a grand point of epiphany to think that maybe you need to spend more attention on the 15% and less on the 50%?  That ain’t some kind of advanced nuclear physics, dude.”  Too truth, my Doubting Thomas… too true.  That wasn’t my clarity moment.  Here is what I realized:

Maybe I need to throw a ton of time and attention to body… even if it is at a 50% point of progress.  Seems a little odd, right?  How is devoting more time to the area where I am the “farthest along” (whatever in the world that even means) going to bring along the two areas that are not quite where I want to be?

Here’s my thought process… and be forewarned, my friends… stepping into my head for even but a moment is gonna leave a mark… tread softly:

I think that if I put in a full commitment to the area of body and really buckle down, get truly disciplined and decide I am going to completely kick ass on all aspects of my physical developments for the next few months… I think there will be tremendous carry over to mind and spirit.  It all gets back to my core belief that developing one area of mind/body/spirit and go a really long way to developing them all.  The commitment to excellence and dedication to discipline I can put forth through consistent training, top-notch diet and a relentless attitude will allow me to prove to myself I can make progress when I commit.  That proof will strengthen my resolve and, hence, strengthen my spirit.

This kind of single-minded focus I think will spillover into mind as well because this approach will force me to be smart and not just burn myself out like some kind of unfocused maniac.

And… in the end… if my body feels good and I know I am making progress, I already know this is the kind of confidence that improves my life as a whole anyway.  I can hardly put into words how much better my life has been ever since I decided sometime in college and then in law school to really start getting myself into shape.  It’s completely night and day.

But while I am still doing well, I think I’ve lost a little bit of the swagger and a little bit of the fun that goes along with it.  I aim to get that back and in getting that back, prove to myself that just an overall improvement to the other spots in my life is going to be part of the package.

Will I completely give up on devoting time to my mind or my spirit?  Of course not.  That would make me a completely shallow and borderline boneheaded fool to do that… but instead, I am going to let them rise with the tides created through getting myself going on the physical part of my life.  Plus, this is not a forever thing to devote this much more time and attention to one part of this little trinity.  These things must be cycled to really make best use of the shorter bursts of focused effort lest you truly become horribly out of balance and just a very one-dimensional person (one of my worst nightmares).

Time to shake up the yin-yang and see what comes out on the other side… and I’m feel pretty good that the other side is only going to be something better.  And more handsome… if that’s even possible.  Seriously… have you met me?  It’s almost unfair.

Confessions of an Educational Mercenary

With each passing year, I gain a greater appreciation for education, learning, reading and all of the food for the mind that is available in the world.  I often say that if I hit Powerball tomorrow, I would definitely like to go back and get another degree in something for the pure pleasure of learning without the worry or concern of the grades that went with it.  Well, after taking at least a year to not do much of anything besides play golf, lift, read, travel and further cement my plans to assert my rightful claim as heir to the Polish monarchy (Hey, just because that was several posts ago doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about it).

A big pile of knowledge Thinking back on my time in college, I was an utter educational mercenary.  I was completely fixated on getting into the best law school possible, so my grades were everything.  I only skipped a single class in my entire college career… and that was so I had more time to study for another class.  I was completely disciplined in my approach to school and studying and it paid off well when I graduated magna cum laude (missing summa cum laude by the difference of a single B+ being an A-) and never getting worse than a A- from 2nd semester of freshman year on.

I don’t mention any of this to brag or to shout “Ooh!  Ooh!  Look at me!  Love me!  LOOOOOVE ME!”… although you should both (a) look at me on account of the fact I am so easy on the eyes and (b) love me because I am just one loveable son of a gun.  No, I bring this fact up to show where my focus resided – the number.  The grade.  Pure and simple.  This was my target and I would do all I could (ethically) to hit it.  Heck, I can remember taking a Latin class and I had certain portions of the Miles Gloriousus so completely memorized that when I had to translate it for a test, all I needed to see was the first 3 words of the passage and I could just write out the next 3 lines without looking back at the Latin.  But what I did I get out of that poem after the fact?  Hmm… probably very little.

While this numbers fixation certainly helped in in achieving my purpose and I am proud of all I put into reaching that goal, there is one element of it that I do wonder about occasionally on a clear Summer night as I enjoy a cold adult beverage on my patio: If I never worried about my grades and was only focused on true learning, what would have been the result?  Would I have gotten better grades?  Worse?  Would I have better absorbed topics I would carry with me to this day?

I do still carry some of the things I learned in college with me to this day and I certainly learned quite a bit from the professors who really were able to bring new and fascinating concepts to life.  This happened quite a bit in my philosophy classes, truth be told and I’m glad those lessons still stick with me and shape the way I think for I am far better off for having had those experiences.

Today I am seeking to give myself another shot at learning for learning’s sake, mostly through what I choose to read and such.  Ideally I would like to set up my own little personal educational curriculum to round myself out in areas of interest to me where I am not as strong as I would like to be (fine art jumps most readily to mind).  Yes, those damn Jesuits got their hooks into me deep in college and there’s no going back now from my obsession with developing the whole person.  In a way, this entire blog is proof of that.

The mercenary is retired… long live the reborn learner.

You Are What You Think

Like most people who get together with school friends they don’t get the chance to see often enough, I often like to ask “Hey, who else have you kept in touch with?  How are they doing?”  I was catching up in just such a fashion not too long ago with a very good friend from law school.  Our conversation then basically became a catching-up session within a catching-up session.  Umm… huh?  Read on.

I asked him if he ran into anyone from law school and he mentioned he had recently run into a woman we both knew from school.  He said it was pretty funny because she said to him,

You know, I will never forget something Kevin said in law school.  A bunch of us were talking about what you look for in someone else when dating and I said I preferred dating men who were smarter than me.  And Kevin says, “Well, that would never work for me… I don’t know anyone smarter than I am.”

My buddy and I agreed that this story was absolutely fantastic… but partially because I 100% remember that conversation and that’s not at all what I said. HA!

University of Connecticut School of Law What I actually said was that my view of people in law school was that I never viewed my classmates as being smarter than me.  Sounds just as bad, doesn’t it?  Ahh, but what is missing is the second half of my statement and this is absolutely critical:

I didn’t think I was the necessarily THE smartest, but I refused to operate on the assumption that anyone was smarter than me.  They might have been better at some things, but I was also better at other things and so I would put myself on par with anyone.

I’m a fairly humble person, so nothing about this is being arrogant or cocky… rather, it’s a notion that in life, if you walk around thinking everyone is better than you or smarter than you or whatever… guess what?  They definitely will be.  You have just voluntarily placed yourself smack-dab in the middle of a foregone conclusion or self-fulfilling prophecy.

The converse is that while thinking you are just as good as anyone else doesn’t mean you automatically will be, at a minimum you’ve given yourself a fighting chance if nothing else.  So why close yourself off before you even get started?  That always struck me as an awful way of thinking.

Be bold and don’t sell yourself short.  That’s how paragons of good-looks like myself get by… obviously.

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