An Existential Shake-Down

One my way home from karate, my mind was reeling with the stress of all my responsibilities; some average and familiar while others are new and unbalanced on my shoulders.

I needed a shake tonight. I needed a shake something fierce.

I have a habit of getting my mind caught in a tailspin when I’m tired, stressed, anxious, or a combination involving any of those three. Now, I’ve done pretty well, and I haven’t had any ice cream for probably around a week, but that was about to change. However, the good old financial situation isn’t the most comfortable at the moment, so I wondered if I should afford a five-dollar shake from JCW’s.

I pondered this the whole way from the studio up to when I was just about to pull into the drive-thru when I had this thought, “You should have the discipline to avoid this.” That thought morphed into another, “I’ve been so used to just having what I want when I want it for so long—within the reason of a less than average income.” This, in turn, transformed into the question, “What would it be like for me to actively discipline myself from just going out and getting what I want? Like, for instance, an ice cream cone?”

I’d already pulled into the narrow drive-thru as this sequence continued to rapid-fire and spiderweb in my brain. I no longer had the advantage of only driving away. I was going to get that shake whether I wanted to or not, but it gave me some time to let these ideas and questions sink in.

I could generalize all the different ways of thinking out there to compare, contrast, support, deny, undermine, or enhance where these thoughts took my mind and heart, but I feel that there are plenty of those to be had.

Music, YouTube channels, every chat room conceivably discovered, etc. There’s no shortage in the variety of avenues to persuade a thought. Instead, I feel the pull to explore this thought in an unadulterated sense. It’s been so long since I’ve stayed in one train of thought without playing Devil’s Advocate with it that I’d like to see where I go with it purely on its own.

I love the word discipline because it implies growth. It requires sacrifice, humility, letting go of any idea of control, love, respect, integrity, perseverance, and the possession of an indomitable spirit. Discipline, when exercised with love, is an almost unstoppable force for good in this world.

It can overcome the mediocrity of life. It can enhance and expand the boundaries of what we know, believe, or seek. It can eliminate practices that are harmful, inadequate, or unsavory. It requires the absolute best of us, demanding a level just short of perfection because that’s the level we can never attain. It operates on justice while relying on mercy, and it brightens all it touches when allowed to penetrate into the heart and soul.

By opening ourselves up to discipline, we cannot help but become more.

That is, of course, only when discipline is used constructively and positively. Make no mistake. There’s an ugly side to discipline, ruled over by fear, guilt, jealousy, and wrath. But I said that I wouldn’t dive down there for now, so I won’t.

I asked myself the question as I turned into the drive-thru, “What is the difference between me harping on myself for getting this shake out of worry over money, versus the decision that I approve of not getting a shaking whether for money or some other reason?” I’ve come to a conclusion–in the limited time I’ve had since then—that the difference is substantial because it is personal.

If I choose to harp on myself, then I prove to the stress, anxiety, fear, and worry that I’ve acknowledged them and determined to let them dominate the scene. If I went the other way and calmly decided that I could hold off on the shake, if for no other reason than to further discipline myself towards self-control and assertion, then I am now headed in a better direction for it.

Would that have meant I couldn’t or shouldn’t have a shake? Absolutely not. For me, I see it as an opportunity to show myself that I don’t always need to satisfy this impromptu urge to “have something.” I can wait. Or abstain.

I’ve since realized that justification arrives as a convenient thing. Kind of like our conscience, or our inner voice. Only, we bear the power to wield it unequivocally. That, right there, is a unique privilege I hope to learn to not take advantage of.

Regarding my shake, would it have made this profound difference that I’ve apparently made it out to be? Am I limited at the moment to the state of a tired and overwhelmed mind that is whirling and wheeling onward in the hopes of latching onto some bright idea I feel is just in front of my eyes? When I am so consumed by unbalanced reverberations, should I not only let my mind exist as it is, and give myself a break?

To be honest, I find these questions the most concerning ones of all. Complacency is a demon of mine; an old, deteriorated friend that I feel mocks me while desiring to shape me. These last questions reek of smugness, fear, lowered standards and morals, and an utter lack of life. But I also can’t deny the level of truth to be found within those questions.

There’s always the truth, even in what we don’t deem to carry much value. However, I am a believer that true, enthusiastic discipline will teach us how to compensate for our demons, and in the end, face them with bright eyes and heads held level and proud, as we smile and say, “Thanks, but I got this.”

I require the best of myself. All the reasons why I may never reach that level doesn’t matter. They do not matter. Because I believe that discipline, willingly sought after and actively allowed to mold and shape me, will eventually get me to a “best” that I’ve never been able to see or imagine.

That’s what honest growth will do. It will show you the best version of you that you could never have created on your own; the you that exceeds anything and everything you ever pursued. It’s a hard road. It hurts, bruises, excited, invigorates, breaks, rejuvenates, and inspires you with revelation after revelation.

But isn’t this the point of a life? I’m pretty glad for the shake scenario tonight.

And it tastes amazing!

Leave a Reply