Plateau.

Fucking plateau. I know what you are now.

You are not flat. You are an uphill in disguise.

You are a sign that downhill is over.

You are proof that downhill never existed in the first place.

You are a decision that I have to make.

You are harder to conquer because there is no end to you in sight.

You are a sign that I’m doing something right, and that I might be doing something wrong.

You are a broken compass in a directionless wilderness.

You are an optical illusion that tells the truth.

You are an opportunity to prevail.

You are the path that leads to every mountain.

You are apathetic to my cause, my needs, my desires.

You are a filter for the pure of heart.

You are a test of my passion. A test of my resolve. A test of my love.

You are not a test at all. And you aren’t a plateau at all. You’re a cliff thrown on its side, and forward is climbing, always climbing.

You are the ground. You are reality.

Thank you for being so constant, so unmoving, so indifferent. For staying put so I could find you.

If I can’t live here with you, I have no business dreaming of higher ground.

Strength: What I’ve Learned from Planks—and My Daughter.

“Put your hand in the box.”
“What’s in the box?”
“Pain.”
“Cool! Thanks!”

Strength is a wonderful and terrible thing.

On the one hand, it enables me to do the things that I want to do, overcoming fear and all of the other seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my way, both real and perceived. Building that kind of strength through old-fashioned focused discipline is incredibly rewarding, just like my parents and grandparents told me it would be.

On the other hand, the real-life application of that strength has taught me something very terrifying about myself: even if I haven’t acquired the strength I need to accomplish a certain task yet, it’s still there.

I first really learned this during those long sleepless months of early parenthood. You tell yourself, I can’t hold her for another minute. I can’t stay in this position for another second. I can’t go another day without a good night’s sleep. And then you always do—not because you want to, but because you have to. You have no choice. The alternative is unacceptable.

This experience has fundamentally changed the way I exercise. I used to tell myself that I pushed myself to the limit. Now I can comfortably say that I was out-and-out lying. No way was I even coming close to my limit. I was afraid of the pain. And I’m not talking about the sharp red kind of pain—I’m talking about that hot white center of the universe kind of pain, the kind that you know is working miracles one little fraction of a millimeter at a time.

If you’ve ever done planks, you know that you hold it for as long as you can. AS LONG AS YOU CAN. Except in this situation, you have a choice. You can say to yourself, “Phew, self, that was really hard. Great job!” and you will totally believe it, even when you have another minute or two in you. When I do planks now, I really do hold them as long as I can. The only problem is, the jig is up. I know that I can hold them longer if I really really want to, every single time. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier, but the pain and the struggle become more familiar.

On a parallel swerve and just as scary, I absolutely need that kind of strength in my life today, in a way that I never did when I was younger or before I had a kid. Every day at some point (and most days at several points), that strength saves my ass from some kind of stupid and/or easy way out that just presents itself. There’s only one big “Oh, I give up” for each of us that’s truly inescapable, and that’s the white, hot, miserable truth.

The strengthening parental scenarios just keep morphing as my daughter gets older, but what I’ve found is that now I embrace these inescapable situations with vigor. Yes, I can read more stories. Yes, I can sing more bedtime songs. Yes, I can play restaurant grocery store again. And yes, I can pick you up and put you back in your toddler bed 30 times tonight without cracking.

Sometimes.

The Future: A Glimpse.

Flying cars and android clones—but just like today in almost every other way.

I’ve compiled a short list of social and cultural improvements that I hope to see happen in my lifetime—just little everyday things that add up to my current conception of “progress.” I know that these ideas may be just a little ahead of their time, but hey, I’m a dreamer.

  • Music will be played on stereo speakers so that it can be heard and enjoyed at an acceptably high level of quality. This practice will lead to regularly occurring communal listening parties (both spontaneous and planned) among friends and family, leading to the sharing and discovery of new music.
  • Telephones will be used to have conversations, primarily between 2 or more people who are not in close proximity but have something important to say to each other. Because of this shift in practice, phone conversations will no longer be used to tell someone that they “can’t talk right now”—rather, the person who cannot talk will simply not answer their phone.
  • Telephones will cease to be used as a tool for micro-coordinating meetings. Consequently, people will stop using the phrase “I’ll be right there” to explain that they are anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes away, and stop calling people to ask, “Where are you?” when someone is between 5 seconds and 10 minutes late.
  • When someone asks what time it is, a small device worn on the wrist will serve as an almost instantaneous reference. This device could be called a “wrist clock” or a “wrist watch.” People will no longer have to waste time getting their smartphones out of their pockets or purses, pulling them out of their cases, and turning them on and/or unlocking them in order to accomplish this simple task.
  • While walking and/or operating any type of vehicle, people will look where they are going because 1) it helps us survive, and 2) it is the best way for us to stay informed of our immediate present and near-immediate future,  creating a tremendous sense of place in the mind and body of the observer.
  • Someone will give a TedX talk comparing the cost of paper, pen, envelopes, and stamps to the cost of a computer and monthly internet and smartphone service. This same presentation will also attempt to compare the experience of corresponding twice a month by mail to the experience of daily correspondence via email. The US Postal Service will be reborn in a matter of months. Profits at AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner will fall, forcing them to lower the price of their services to amounts that reflect their true value.
  • Sellers will have two primary avenues to choose from when aiming to successfully market their products to consumers: 1) physical interaction between their products and prospective buyers in stores or elsewhere, and 2) word-of-mouth promotion by satisfied customers and/or resources that act as trusted filters. All other forms of promotion will be looked upon as ineffective white noise.
  • The word “text” will revert to its original noun form. Overnight, thumbs will joyously return to their previous vocations—opposable gripping, displaying approval or disapproval, snapping, and hitchhiking.
  • Similarly, the word “app” will only be used to describe food ordered at Chili’s that arrives 15 to 20 minutes prior to your bacon cheeseburger.
  • People will spend more time with faces and books than Facebook.