a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Monday, June 9, 2008

Every Day Is Groundhog Day

"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

That was one of the security questions posed to me when I was signing up for Virgin America's frequent flier program. Now, this is a pretty cool airline that gives you a nifty screen in front of your seat so you can order food, customize a music playlist, and chat with your fellow passengers. Heck, I scored a $236 non-stop, roundtrip ticket for my current trip to Washington DC, with no fuel surcharge or fee for a checked bag - all in all, no complaints. The only fatal flaw is, they left Chuck Norris out of the tongue twister. So, we're left with a feeble little critter called the groundhog, otherwise known as the woodchuck or whistlepig, and which apparently is a chubby ground squirrel.

I got a good chuckle, but I didn't choose that security question. How much wood? One pood? That would be the unit of measurement of choice for any self-respecting kettlebell lifter. Too obvious.

Sometimes, we must step off the obvious path, leave our comfort zone, and be willing to confront our fears and insecurities, in order to get to a mo' better place. The time for action is always now, never later. The movie Groundhog Day came out 15 years ago, and I've always taken to heart the flick's simple message of Carpe Diem, and have had great success with it in job interviews answering the question, "What's your favorite movie?" Often in real life, we don't get the opportunity to do something over; once the moment has passed, it's gone forever. "Just do it!" is only part of the deal. We must also try to do it NOW, and do it RIGHT. A kind word unspoken, a helping hand unextended, or a transgression unforgiven is fraught with even more regret than fumbling through our first baby steps towards a more integral way of being. Granted, there are days when I wake up to discover the same old sameness in routine, habits, cravings, neuroses. One falls into the illusion that the next project can just self-start on the next day, weekend, month, quarter, year. The curse of Groundhog Day seems almost like a blessing, that we apparently do have tomorrow to try again. But in fact all there is that we have is the present moment. It's not like we need to scale mountains or dive from the sky to prove the present. The practice of mindfulness can help us zero in on the state of our being: Am I at peace with myself and the world? If I were to die today, would my life have been as meaningful and spiritually rich as I'd like it to be? I try to let the answers to these two questions guide my moment-to-moment experience - what to do and think, how to engage life with "passionate equanimity," with grace, and grit, and a touch of daring.*

Chuck wood, carry water.
Live like there's no tomorrow.

Hard to figure out.
I bet Chuck Norris can.
But Chuck Norris never dies.
Every day is Groundhog Day.

Chuck Norris for VP

* Ken Wilber's Grace and Grit is probably the greatest book that I've ever read. Ken's brilliance as a contemporary philosopher is undisputed. This book shows his "softer" side as a caregiver to his wife Treya, whose journey through breast cancer, with an emotional fortitude that she calls "passionate equanimity," is at once moving, inspiring, and life-affirming. I remember being handed a dog-eared copy in the late 90's when my then-roommate was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. I didn't go to work for two days because I couldn't put the book down. I then ordered four copies to give to friends - that was my first online purchase ever, from Amazon!

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