19 October 2009

Every day is a new day, just like every other day.

Today is the 15,518th day of my life. [Numerological note: I was born on the 26th. Strangely, 15518 in base 26 is "MOM". Hi, Mom!] Now, you might think that after maybe the first 15,000 I'd have had this all figured out. But, like all days, every day is different. We can't predict the nature or even the existence of tomorrow. If we can't stop the flow of the river of time, though, maybe we can build some locks to make our journey across the rapids easier. We rely on watches, clocks, calendars, alarms, reminders, schedules.

I'm a big fan of Google Calendar for its ubiquity (it's available anywhere I can get to the web and syncs with my Blackberry), its ease of use (it looks like a paper calendar), and its shareability (I subscribe to calendars from my church and the YMCA and can easily add event from other organizations). I carry my Blackberry compulsively. My own brain didn't come with a good memory for schedules and events, so I tote along an extra brain in my pocket. My extra little black rectangular brain is very good at remembering things. Computers are augmented brains, just like cars are augmented limbs. They get us where we're going better than our natural equipment.

I may have been orbiting a black hole for the past year, though; my perception, my experience of time has been altered -- perhaps allowing me a closer view of the strands that make up its structure. Perhaps just spinning me round: Time when you're seriously ill is undependable. Time in the hospital is interminable. Time in recovery is hour-by-hour. Time with family and friends is far too short.

I've not had the constraining luxury of a regular 9-to-5 for a few months now. It's blissful freedom, but also another clock ripped from my wall. I wandered footloose and fancy free (!) this summer. But I don't operate well without structure, schedules, and deadlines. They give me something to battle against. I've therefore put up some new calendars and clocks on my metaphorical wall, and wound a few watches as well.

I've set some interesting and barely-attainable goals for each day and each month. Every day during the month of October I must go to the gym. Every day I must write a blog entry, either here or on my more professionally-oriented blog.  Every day I must take active steps to either land an excellent job or start a venture of my own. In the month of November I must write a 50,000+ word novel, which means that every day in October I must be working in preparation. I've also set a goal of reducing my material possessions by donating, trashing, or recycling something every week.

The benefits of going to the gym daily are most obvious. Although I've made a diligent effort to 'get to the YMCA!' every week since my surgery, it's been limited to 2-3 times a week, and only when I've been feeling good. Guess what? Going to the gym every day has me feeling really good. Going to the gym every day is becoming a great habit, even addictive -- I'm back to getting a runner's high after a half hour on the rowing machine. Last week when I mentioned to my doctor that I was well enough to work out every day his jaw dropped (good thing he's a doctor, they can fix that). Exercise is helping me get through my steroid withdrawal. My joint pain is gone, my mood is much improved, and I'm building significant amounts of muscle mass. My family's much happier about all of the above.

Folks, I've done a wide variety of things in the last 15,518 days. Many of them were supremely challenging, and I've discovered that it's in challenges where I'm at my best. I thrive on unachievable or unbelievable goals. It's the day-to-day stuff I'm bad at. So I think that complete recovery from my second kidney transplant, writing a young-adult fantasy novel about three brothers, and starting a new business venture is a good set of challenges for the next few hundred days.

Old man river, he just keeps rolling, just keeps rolling along....