This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
I decided that today’s word would be determination. Or determined. Or whatever tense I decided on by the time I got to the end of this.
But sometimes a word decides itself.
While I was being determined, the word was rebelling, shifting, becoming something else. I wrote a whole thing about being determined before the word that wanted to be written about broke through. It was loud. Turns out it had been screaming in the back of my brain the whole time but there was so much fluff and noise up there that it all blended together.
Seems like I was determined to be obtuse, but it was determined to get out.
I finished a book today.
It’s like a miracle.
Ralph and I spent the evening together. I made filet mignon and lobster tail, we watched a movie, then watched a review of the movie.
It was nice. It was necessary.
I wanted to use the word determined because that’s what I am.
I’m determined to take back my life.
From what? From work, from busy, from have to, whether it’s an obligation or I’ve imposed it on myself. From inertia. From malaise.
From my own thoughts.
I am not my thoughts. I have to remind myself of that a lot.
I’m determined to be better than I am. I already used better.
I’ve been liking some of the Peloton guided meditations, not because they are altogether amazing but because sometimes during the course of ten or twenty or thirty minutes, they say one sentence that resonates.
One thing that interrupts the pattern, and that’s enough.
Today it was someone who reminded me that I am not my thoughts. She said something about feeling anxious and if you do, just say oh, hello, and look at it as a visitor that will leave again.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of things I already know.
One of the instructors who I like doing strength exercises with, in the middle of telling you to do something hard, she just casually says, yes you can, not in an enthusiastic way, not in a motivating way, just as a matter of fact. When she says it, I believe it.
So I wrote a whole thing about being determined.
Except there is another Peloton instructor. They all have a hashtag you can follow, and the one I like is iamicaniwillido.
If it sounds like I’ve been absorbed into the cult of Peloton, it’s probably true.
The thing I love most about that hashtag mantra is that it doesn’t say anything about what I want to do, should do, might do, feel like doing.
Just what I will.
Motivation is overrated. If I had to sit around waiting or hoping or trying to get motivated, nothing would happen.
Being and doing are what matters.
What I will.
That’s when the word that had been screaming to be known finally trumpeted out with bright lights and confetti and maybe a balloon or two.
I was having a cup of tea and an oat bran muffin. Oat bran, because it’s healthy and suffices as dessert. I made it sort of from a recipe but sort of out of what I wanted to make it out of.
The recipe wanted a half a cup of sugar. A half a cup! No. I already used no, but it still floated around in the flotsam of my brain so I said no to sugar. I cut it in less than half.
The recipe wanted oil. No. I added a lot of applesauce and some yogurt instead.
The recipe wanted flour. Oh hell no. I’m not skipping bread so I can eat flour in a muffin. So I used oat bran and oat flour, which is healthier and has no gluten. Gluten is not the enemy, I know. But in the grand scheme of things, it makes you fat. In my scheme of things, it makes me fat. I avoid it if I can. When I want to. When I decide to.
I threw in some freeze dried strawberries and out came some rather dense, not sweet at all, but perfectly passable muffins for when you want tea and dessert but you are rebooted so you’re not eating cookies.
I was having a cup of tea and an oat bran muffin, being determined to take care of myself, my health, my well-being, my stress level, my need for relaxation. I was determined to finish that book.
I will take care of myself. I will be healthier, I will read this book. I will fold the laundry because it’s official, everything I own is in a wrinkled pile on what used to be a chair.
I don’t sit down every day and write because I’m motivated. I do it because icaniwillido.
And sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes thoughts visit that tell me I’m not motivated or inspired. I don’t have the energy.
That’s when today’s word comes in handy. Not being those thoughts, just deciding what I will.
Don’t want to.
I will tell a positive story. I will spend time on personal projects. I will finish gathering my tax stuff so my father doesn’t have to work at the last second putting my tax returns together (sorry, dad!)
It’s funny how will is part of willpower, and willpower is the last thing you need when it’s time to choose what you will do.
Willpower implies that you have some store of fortitude. That you have an internal strength, righteousness. Not a choice so much as a mysterious well of power that you have to keep running somehow.
But even willpower fails.
When you don’t even have the willpower to get up off the couch and do the yoga, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you will.
It was good enough to keep me from eating a bucket of animal crackers today.
Good enough that I sat down and finished one of the five books I have started.
Good enough to take a whole night off to sit on the couch and watch movies.
And good enough to keep me awake writing this, because I told myself icaniwill do this project, even when I write entire things about a word only to find out it isn’t the word at all and I have to start over. Maybe it’s not a profound thing or an important thing. But iwill.
And I did.
Photo: tonight’s delightful dinner during our delightful relaxation time.