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Don’t Burn It Down

My first full day back in Denver was inexplicably stressful.

For most of the day I felt out of control, frustrated, angry. And for no real reason I could put my finger on. At a few points, my heart rate even jumped over 100 BPM. While I was just standing there.

My guess is that it was some combination of the million things one has to do when arriving back home from a long trip; shop for groceries, unpacking, shop for the groceries that you forgot in the first trip that are somehow the most crucial for cooking anything, cleaning up. Really just remembering how you live as an adult on your own.

Tack on trying to squeeze in a ‘normal’ run at 5280 feet after spending 5 weeks at sea level and not writing or reading at any point during the day and I suppose I’ve whipped up a recipe for an ‘inexplicable’ feeling of stress.

It was on my 2nd grocery run of the day that I had my weekly call with Amrou. I babbled on somewhat meanderingly about the day feeling ‘weird’ and that I just ‘feel off’ and concluded that what I really thought I needed was a good reset. To sit down that night with a blank slate and rebuild my life.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Amrou said. You do realize the progress you’ve made in the past year, right? You do realize that you’ve finally been able to stick to habits that have eluded you for a lifetime? And you want to burn that down?

Have you considered the fact that maybe you just had a bad day?

No, I guess I hadn’t considered that.

I hadn’t considered that maybe there would be a bit of disruption in going from being at home with family to being 2,000 miles away again. From getting a little less quality sleep as I always do the first night at altitude. From being unsettled, out of routines.

But instead I jumped to what was easy. Burn that mother fucker down. It’s broken. Beyond repair. The only solution is starting fresh.

As I wrote in my article on consistency, there’s nothing quite like the rush you get when sketching out your new life. Even if your current one is working just fine.

Amrou also reminded me of how we used to respond to these disruptions when we lived together in 2009. Our strategy went something like this:

  1. Disruption occurs.
  2. Burn it down, reset life with unattainable goals.
  3. Fail at those goals (quickly).
  4. Conclude our life is ruined.
  5. Spend 6 months feeling bad about it.
  6. Drown those feelings in alcohol 4 nights/week.

I can be both successful in making progress on the whole and have bad days. These things are not mutually exclusive.

I’d do well to be a little more accepting of when those bad days do come, because they will. It’s just important not to burn down all the good that has been built in a fit of panic.

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