Years ago I rowed at a rowing club. I rowed singles, doubles, fours and eights. As a sculler I’d get thrown into any kind of boat where I might be needed. Even when I rowed a single, I usually went out on the water in the company of other rowers. The typical time to go on the lake was 5:30 AM for the calm water and a choice of boats. So I’d get up at 5:00 and show up at the dock at 5:30, get in a boat, row for an hour or two, and then go to work.
There is a bit of sacrifice with such a schedule, especially if you’re training every day and not all that competitive. It means
- giving up tv and an evening social life in order to get enough sleep.
- You unfashionably want lunch at ten and dinner at four.
- All your friends are rowers or milkmen.
It also means rowing in crappy weather.
You can row in nearly any kind of crappy weather, you know. You can row in sleet, hail, snow, rain, wet sleet, icy rain… anything but wind and fog. (Windy conditions are unsafe, and in fog you can hit something and no one will be able to save your sorry ass because they can’t find you.) So we had one rule: No matter what the weather, you have to show up at the boathouse, stand on the dock, stare at the weather and firmly declare (depending on the weather) that you have no intention of going out in that crap.
At this point, there’s some stoic little jerk you’d like to kill, who decides she’ll just go out in the frozen rain in a four without your whiny ass. There’s a collective sigh, and everyone piles in the boat, has a perfectly fine row, then goes for pastry and coffee afterward. Show up, whine, row, eat.
If there’s 40 knots out, you can always clean, sand or grease something inside the boathouse, after standing on the dock and firmly declaring that you have no intention of going out in that crap.
This is sort of a version of “Showing up is 85% of Life.” I’ve applied this show up and stand on the dock tactic to most everything in my life that gets tiresome but is still important to me. Chris Guillebeau did a bit on starting something, then telling himself it’s not okay to quit. My approach is a little different. I allow myself to quit at any point. It’s how I’ve managed to do yoga and pilates classes 3-4 times a week for the past three months now, which is sort of a record for me. I show up. I get a mat out and put my shoes aside. I tell myself I can walk out in the middle of class and go get coffee, or just lie there in savasana for an hour, or watch the news from a treadmill instead. But I show up, then I do the classes, and I remember why I do it. It’s easier to just keep going than it is to quit, since, you know, what the hell, you’re there anyway. It’s a lazy way to not be lazy.
Show up. It makes all the difference in the world.
(P.S. Dave, pictured left, has the spirit if not the technique for savasana.)