3 weeks ago I did a heroic dose of magic mushrooms and experienced “ego dissolution” – which is to say, from my perspective, I died. Then I filled my journal with pages and pages of notes, observations, and rules for my life now that I’m me again. This podcast covers most of what I now believe to be true about how I feel I should live.
Lia talks about body image, and how she’s working on getting to a healthier place mentally after pregnancy. Ryan gets a chance to talk about dunking and seizes it with everything he’s made of.
After 4 years, Lia and I have decided to start publishing these podcasts again! We’ve found that the forced conversation is as close to a date as we can manage these days, and so we’ll be doing these bi-weekly.
The technology has also gotten much better, so it looks like we’ll be able to publish these episodes to iTunes for easy subscribability.
I wrote down my bucket list a month ago, then this month I reread it.
Here’s the list of things I want to do before I die, followed by my own reflections regarding the list and my internal war with some of it’s elements…
My bucket list:
- Build a strong family with Lia and our daughters, maintain loving, healthy, respectful relationships with each other as we all grow and change.
- Become a grandparent – hopefully many times over!
- Get barrelled.
- Clear $200,000 in gross annual income.
- Become financially independent.
- Break the 5 minute mark on a breath hold.
- Dunk a basketball.
- Do stand up comedy.
- Build/buy our dream house / land on water.
- Teach my daughters to surf, free dive, spear fish, jiu jitsu, muay thai, soccer, volleyball, hockey, ultimate, golf, skateboarding, carpentry, code, knife throwing, climbing, canoeing, investing, business, mindfulness, goal setting/completion, music, art…
- Leave the world a little better than it was when I arrived.
In reviewing my bucket list, I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back on going for the big goals. The most pronounced one is dunking a basketball. I initially didn’t put it on the is the list, then had to incrementally increase the goal from tennis ball to volleyball, and only now am I accepting the reality that I will one day dunk a basketball. IF I train!!
This acceptance is big. Overcoming my internal resistance to one of my biggest dreams represents a significant change in my forward progress. I’ve been static on that for a long time. Now I’m moving. Move on one formerly impossible big goal, and then move on the next.
I’ve been static on that for a long time. Now I’m moving. Move on one formerly impossible big goal, and then move on the next.
I’ve also been going through a restructuring of my time to forcefully prioritize time with my wife and daughters at the expense of time doing work for other people.
This has made me very happy. It has compounded the love I have for my girls, most potently with Isla. I have historically shut her out the most in order to work, and giving her my full attention has felt really good.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that earning Isla’s love is the most important thing to me, because I can see how it’s possible to miss out, even a bit, and not do as good a job as I could have, and fucking regret that.
Same goes for Lia and Lake. But right now Isla, at the stage she’s at, seems most urgent.
Following my bucket list goals to their ultimate conclusions, yes grossing $200K would feel amazing. As would attaining financial independence. But those without making an absolute success of my family would be damn near fucking meaningless.
Looking at it the other way around, I wouldn’t care much if I never grossed over $200K, it would be harder not to ever feel what financial independence feels like… but I’d be happy. I’d be SO happy. Like I am now.
Here’s the thing. We all play frisbee for different reasons, and my main reason is to have fun. So I don’t belong on a competitive team with winning as the primary focus. If I can win AND have fun, great. But I’d rather have a shit ton of fun, take big risks, try to build momentum and win or lose in epic fashion.
So with that in mind, I’m personally developing a playing style more aligned with massive risk-taking. This means paying way more attention to the thrower at all times, and trying to read what’s going to happen in order to do something about it. I leave my man to feel basically unguarded. Sure, I’m close-ish, but I’m playing with space. I’m poaching, trying to make my man look as attractive a throw as possible while staying confident that I can cut off the throw mid-flight. And if they throw over me, that’s more time for me to recover careless positioning.
At this point, I’d say (just as a wild guess) I’m able to see a play coming 30% of the time, and the majority of the time I’m completely wrong and out of position. But that’s OK with me, because I feel pretty strongly that if I’m able to drop my player and make an interception, the momentum gained by my team is far greater than the momentum lost by me being out of position and a pass being completed (even for a point). Being out of position is not spectacular, it doesn’t generally create a strong reaction. But bidding for an interception (and even missing) creates a sense of “swinging for the fences” that spreads throughout the team. I think this makes a team more volatile, more dangerous, and more fun.
I think it’s a mistake for a beginner team to try an play a “controlled” game. I don’t think there’s enough to be gained by playing safely, making only “sure throws” to justify that approach as a team’s strategy. New players, if given license to throw bombs in a game, gain a shit ton more confidence and valuable handling experience than if they’re pressured into always making safe throws (and dumps) to veteran handlers.
No team, ever, has been ignited by safely walking the disc into the end zone. On the other hand, even the opposing team will get up and scream for a spectacular layout D block.
Defending the end zone presents even juicier opportunities to read the play, and abandon your player, and make a bid for glory. Because you’re covering a smaller part of the field, I think it’s actually easier to poach hard in the end zone (providing you’re taking away the easy “in” throws and forcing the handler to put the disc over you, thus building the necessary time to catch up if you made a mistake).
Here’s my final argument for why poaching is better than not poaching:
Imagine a situation where all the players on the defending team are able to predict the throw a second before it’s released. This gives them all enough time to begin sprinting to the point on the field the disc is headed, leaving all players undefended but the player trying to receive the disc. Assuming the defender marking the disc doesn’t make the block, you have the defenders in immediate proximity to the handler reacting to the handler alone. This means bodies getting in the path of the throw (which we’re assuming is happening). So let’s then assume that none of those nearby defenders were able to block or intercept the disc, we now have all the mid-and-deep positioned defenders reacting to the receiver – who now has to make a fairly difficult catch due to being outnumbered by defenders. Yes, if the catch is made, the entire rest of the team is open. That’s the risk. But I still think that a team being able to collectively react to one throw at a time, and isolating/outnumbering the two offensive players involved in that pass, creates a defensive advantage. It also introduces a level of unpredictability for the offence to deal with, and as those of you who’ve played with me know, I’m a huge fan of creating a sense of chaos! I love when the other team is yelling “Man! No, Zone! No, Uh… What the fuck are they doing?”
We’ve all played “Man” and “Zone” and I think it’s time to embrace a new and somewhat random system where we’re thinking less about zones and players, and more about flight paths and developing a poaching mindset (admittedly structured almost exactly as a zone would be). I want to do some strange shit. I want to leave the handler unmarked (if we have a lead!) and double up on the in-cuts.
I want to see the game evolve.
Today I woke up dreading another hour long workout, so much so that if I wasn’t publicly committed to doing this (and posting the video) I’d probably have skipped today altogether. So instead I’m going to change the program slightly to make it much more flexible and achievable.
Instead of doing 50 of one movement, I am now making it so I can do 50 of any movement. In my head, I was going to do 25 dips and 25 pull-ups today, and that was far more appealing than doing all 50 pull-ups only, or all 50 dips only. Doing different exercises also cuts down on the time needed between sets because you’re not necessarily using the same muscle groups. This of course cuts way down on the total length of the workout. Yesterday I was lifting for about an hour. Today I was done in about 6 minutes.
This flexibility is going to go a long way in ensuring I stick to this program long enough for it to become a habit (which, according to Google, takes 66 days). I’ll commit to posting a set of 70 videos, then deciding whether I’ve established the habit and can stop the videos or whether it’s still a struggle and I need to keep going.
Here’s today’s (much shorter) workout… with a tangent about how squirrels stay warm in the winter thrown in as bonus material:
Only a fool wants war. But once a war starts, then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy. – Derfel Cadarn (Excalibur, Bernard Cornwell)
Some things fucking suck, but we still gotta get them done. How we do these brutally painful things probably says more about us than how we do the easy stuff, the stuff we’re good at and the stuff we love.
The idea of committing to something painful and refusing to stop is well illustrated in this video of Gary V eating increasingly spicy chicken wings:
I’m always getting sucked back into my own comforts. For my family, Sunday is about comfort, taking the day slowly, and relaxing. Often we do that so well that shifting back into gear on Monday is a huge challenge. Caffeine and epic music can help grease the gears:
Then it’s a matter of getting down to the work. I’ve found that the thing I dread doing the most is the thing I should be doing. On days I’ve done well, I skip looking at emails and I go straight into doing the hardest thing. On days I don’t do so well, I end up wandering through emails and end up on chat support with an Amazon support rep trying to return a book for $8. The question I ask to determine whether I’m being productive or not is, “Does doing this activity bring me closer to where I want to be in 5 years?” If the answer is “No” the best thing to do is abandon the task and start doing something I can foresee contributing to a more successful future.
Sometimes that thing is studying a new technique or skill that will contribute to my work. Sometimes the activity is simply doing good work for a client I expect to be working for in 5 years.
Right now, the war I didn’t want is the war of Sunday Ryan vs. Monday Ryan. Monday Ryan cannot fight half-heartedly. He can’t fight with regret. He must wage war with a savage joy in defeating himself.
Fall is my favourite season, but I do get depressed when the daylight hours shorten. While I don’t necessarily suffer from full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (I don’t think!) I do get a little blue when I’m getting less exposure to the sun/nature/outdoors in general.
The colder weather means going outside is more of a pain in the ass. Snow and ice force me to use footwear which needs to get put on and taken off every time I indulge in some outside time. It doesn’t sound like much of a barrier – but those little inconveniences, for me, can be the difference between hours spent outside and zero time outside for days in a row. Most of the time, I just don’t do things unless it’s really fucking easy to start doing them. “Start” is the important word here, because the activity itself can be difficult. I don’t mind exercising, I maybe even like it. But if starting it is difficult, there’s little to no chance I’m going to do it. Any of it.
I used to have one of those suspension workout systems that you brace in a doorway and use the straps to do various exercises. It lived in its box, and that box lived somewhere in my closet. I never used it, and it wasn’t practical to keep in a doorway because every time I opened the door the thing would fall out and scare the shit out of me. So now I have a pull-up bar above the stairs leading to the basement (where our only washroom is). I drink lots of coffees and so I walk under the pull-up bar many times a day. I do maybe 8 pull ups a day, every other day, if that. But the difference between 8 and 0 isn’t 8. It’s fucking infinity. You can’t multiply anything by 0 to get 8. And that’s because 0 is the most worthless number in the world. People live and die by 0s. If you smoke more than 0 cigarettes, you’ll probably fucking die of lung cancer because once in a while you get drunk and smoke a pack of cigarettes and do irreversible damage to your already shitty lungs. You do that a few times a year, for your whole life, then you retire and smoke more out of sheer boredom and yep, you die of lung cancer. I don’t smoke but the above story certainly applies to me for drinking. There’s a blog post on here about me only drinking one beer or some bullshit, and I solemnly swear to you that that nonsense is over. I like to drink, and when the stars align for a night on the town, I drink like I mean it.
Zero to one kid is another infinite difference. If you have zero kids, you’re going to be pretty fucked when you get too old to take care of yourself (unless the future supplies us with free robots to change us when we shit ourselves). No amount of paid nurses will ever do as good a job of a genetically obligated successor at giving a fuck about your senile ass when dementia turns you into a wrinkled puppet for the hedonistic spirits to play inappropriate and very public sexual pranks with.
I got a bit lost there, let’s get back to talking about why fall makes me fucking miserable. I believe my daily happiness depends in large part on the inclusion of (in no particular order):
- Spending ANY amount of time outside, other than “none” (huge boost to happiness if I can absorb some sunlight into my skin and eyes)
- Experiencing the sensation (even the illusory sensation) of “progress” in something (anything) … (this is why I’m always cutting and stacking firewood)
- Socializing / spending time with other humans
- Not being hungover (this factor is definitely increasing with age, and impacts several days at a time) / getting quality sleep
The above checklist seems pretty attainable right? It should be easy to do ALL of those things EVERY DAY if it means damn near guaranteed happiness every day. But no. I get “busy” with some bullshit on the computer and before I know it I’m redlining stress hormones and haven’t taken a real breath since waking up. I’m tense. I’m irritable. The sun has just set, it’s 5pm, and I’m depressed. So I go to volleyball and get drunk after and don’t sleep well and that fucks me for the whole next day.
Anyway this post is probably less useful than it is satirical, and I hope I made you laugh. And please, don’t feel bad for me. This isn’t me complaining, it’s just me writing openly. Today I’m happy because I actually respected my checklist. I even got some sun on my face while taking a piss in the backyard (to avoid the pull-up bar) and I got to spend lots of one-on-one time with Isla (Lia’s away for a girl’s weekend). You can’t really get too depressed when an ass-naked 2-year-old is tearing circles around the dinner table, tiny fists full of peanuts, belting out wheels on the bus for the 5000th time.
Spearfishing requires a few things to happen in sequence:
- Hold your breath.
- Dive Deep.
- Spear a fish.
Between stage 2 and 3, when you’re underwater, that’s when everything is awesome. You’re only down there for seconds at a time, but it feels like minutes. There’s no sound at all, total perfect silence. You equalize to relieve the pressure in your ears, and you look for a big fish. When you see a monster, you shit your pants, then spear it. Everything becomes extremely simple like that and I think that’s a big part of why I’ve become obsessed.
Learning to code is like spearfishing. It requires a mental “breath hold” while you struggle to focus on solving only one thing, a small but challenging piece of a larger whole. There’s really no way of accomplishing anything if you’re not able to commit 100% of your focus while writing new code (code you’re just learning). Once that singular piece of code has been written, you get to “return to the surface” of your consciousness and breathe. Step back and run the code. If it works, it’s like you’ve hit the fish. If it doesn’t – your spear missed.
It’s interesting how coders and spear-fishers are required to totally dial their minds into doing only one thing if they hope to do that thing successfully.
What do you do that forces you to do a mental “breath hold”?
This article is about how hurting yourself a little bit can turn a shitty day around.
A bad day isn’t a day that contains pain. A bad day is a day that contains no feeling at all. A totally neutral day. Frequently I have days like that, where I don’t feel anything, and for some reason I feel like shit at the end of those days. Styrofoam shit.
When people talk about how working out elevates mood, I think it’s actually that working out is painful. And you only feel awesome once the pain is gone and the endorphins come. But it was the pain that got you there. Nobody ever felt awesome after a half-assed workout.
Lately I’ve been exposing myself to pain where possible because it gives me a chance to wage war against myself, mentally and physically, and to win or lose some self-respect. If I can string together enough days where I can, for example, shower with only cold water – I seem to gain power and momentum for the rest of the day. That shower couldn’t fuck with me, so what’s next?
If I can’t take the shower I’m pretty much retreating into my shell, weakened, and certainly not feeling very powerful. Pussy Ryan won. The Ryan I want to be is nowhere to be found that day.
By default, I don’t at all want to feel pain. Nobody is wired to seek pain, we’re all wired to go for comfort and pleasure. But I make myself feel it anyway when I can bring myself to. I do this because I know the voice in my head that discourages me from feeling pain is the same voice that discourages me from taking risks, manning up, going for broke, and doing the meaningful things in my life. It’s the voice telling me to run from fear instead of smashing into it head on.
The voice is my inner wimp complaining. The voice in my head coming up with completely rational reasons not to do the belly flop (Thanks Ty!). And thanks Kyle, for leading the synchronized flopping with flawless form.
We have more respect for people who can push through pain, and less respect for wimps. Exposing ourselves to pain, even just a little, is a way to win some self-respect and the feeling of being a badass every single day. It’s a way to turn shit around if we woke up feeling like thumb-sucking infants fresh from shitting the crib, then crying about it.