I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson. Every movie he makes is an epic piece of art. One of my favorites is the Darjeeling Limited–about 3 brothers coping with lose and trying to reconnect while taking a journey through India to visit their estranged mother who became a nun and moved to a convent in the mountains of Nepal.
At the Begining of the movie there is a “short film” with Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman called “Hotel Chevalier.” The whole short seems to revolve around an amazing song called “where do you go (To My Lovely) by Peter Sarstedt.
Often when I am running I can hear the lyrics of that song-even though it is not even remotely a part of my running play list. One particular lyric that I tend to reflect on is “I know the thoughts that surround you ‘Cause I can look inside your head.” It is a moderately creepy thought, the idea of someone being able to peer into your head and listen to your inner dialogue. That “Inner-dialogue” is one of the things that troubles me when I am run for a long time.
I start thinking of the paths I have taken, the roads I could have traveled, the thing I could have done, should have done and would have done, the blessings, and the Regrets. Sometimes I find myself living a different life out in my head while I run–Joe the genius that lives a “Forrest Gump’esque” life where I accomplish enough for 50 lifetimes because of the ridiculous luck that hits me every 2 seconds, giving me a charmed existence that appears so ridiculous that I must have sold my soul to the devil. Joe the greatest athlete on earth, the mensa member, the ivy league graduate, the medal of honor recipient, the olympic gold medalist, the cordon blue graduate, PHD/JD, the male model, super bowl and world series MVP, the crossfit games champion, worlds strongest man winner, Western states champion, Oscar winner, grammy winner, Pulitzer prize winner, Nobel Laurette, James beard winner–etc etc etc. It is really quite asinine.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have been very lucky in my life. Academically and professionally I have pretty much accomplished every single thing that I have ever sought out to accomplish. I had the good fortune to be awarded athletic scholarships to 2 amazing public schools. I earned academic scholarships to an amazing graduate and an amazing law school. I have been very fortunate in my professional career to get every job I wanted and be exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life professionally. I wanted very very specific things and I got them. But now as I RUN I question if they were the things that I really wanted? I question if I am actually living the life that I ever really wanted to be living. ***(This line of logic 100% excludes my wife. . . I want that to be clear).
This is the weird thing that starts happening when you start running A LOT. Your mind goes from noisy, to busy, to silent, to day dreaming, then totally turned off. And when on the treadmill because of inclement weather, the mind goes into full blown over drive…… Unfortunately, only on my crazy long runs over 10 miles OUTSIDE does my mind turn off and go silent, which is my favorite part of running–that means that all week long while I am toiling away collecting miles for the sake of conditioning, my mind doesn’t get to the totally silent mode that makes running so amazing to me. As a hyperactive and anxious person I will say that the running does have an overall calming and soothing effect that “in general” calms me down for the day and allows me to focus far better than normal.
But still it is what is happening inside my head that concerns me. I worry if I am doing THAT which I am meant to be doing.
I wanted to be an actor, writer, chef, poet, painter, cartoonist, academic, athlete, martial artist….artistic …. NOT a suit.
As I run I reflect on the BIG 3. The 3 key decisions I made in my life. The 3 decisions that changed my life, my journey and my path.
#1. Transfer from Boise State to Sacramento State. Why? (Honest) I was homesick. I missed my family. I missed my girlfriend. I hated my Boise teammates. I quit. I should have stuck it out and persevered and been stronger. It would have been a great lesson on making the best out of new situation. But I quit. I took the fact that I got a massive injury that nearly cost me my leg, and the fact that Houston Nutt my coach was a LIAR, and I left. I transferred to a school that I thought would be much better, but in actuality it was not. I made some friends but in the long run, but it was not the right decision for me to be in Sacramento, I should have remained in Boise. At the end of the day, there were some great guys in Sacramento and I appreciated knowing them, but being there was NOT the best decision to assist in making me the best me possible. It is sad, some of my teammates there, people that I thought were my closest friends, were the people that betrayed my trust so deeply that I have yet to be able to allow the wound to fully heal. 13 years later. That is something that I need to work on. While I have forgiven, I just can’t “forget.” I deserved better from those “friends.” I gave a lot as a friend, and at the end of the day was treated like a disposable piece of trash. I have never fully understood it-
#2. Graduate School. Why? (Honest) because I had no professional direction. I felt that a graduate degree made me BETTER somehow. Proved I was smart, proved I was SOMETHING of merit. I had just failed at College football, spending 4 years as failed player (and 1 year as a game/practice film guy); I was always injured, lazy or “distracted.” I allowed the party, or the relationships to get in the way of ME & being the best ME possible. And, I was injured a lot-As my teammates said “Joe is like a candle, 1 blow and he’s out.”
FOMO = Fear of Missing Out, and FOMO defined ME all the time. So I figured graduate school was redemption. Prove that I was the smartest person around, be a civic servant again, scream duty and honor and all that jazz. And most importantly, return my focus to my cultural/spiritual center. I was proving that I was smart like my brother, I was proving that I could be a scholar, and not only did I get into the graduate school, but I earned a full ride.
But still I wanted to be a chef, act and be artistic. What the hell was I doing?. . . . . I had no Idea! All I knew at that time was that I didn’t really want to grow up and have a job yet. I just wanted to be in school and ignore life and responsibility and growing up. And, when you are “lost” and not sure where to go, you just . . . well . . . “GO.” Go anywhere, through the motions, through the classes and go punch the time card.”GO” do anything other than THAT which you know in your heart you want/need to do in order to be fully fulfilled inside. Tell yourself repeatedly that it is your conscious decision to pursue something else, because that is what you truly want to do. you tell yourself that rather than admit that you are to scared to pursue and fail. I CHOSE not to follow my heart, because I wanted a skill, trade, profession, something to have security-Horse shit, I chose the easy road. And for me, that was the very difficult road of law school… talk about jack’assery hahahaha
#3. Law School. Why? (Honest) because my brother did and what else was I going to do- I had nothing else that I wanted to do- All the things I wanted to do, Cook/Act/Art I was too scared to follow my heart and dreams. I was too scared to follow my gut. I was too scared to take the risk. I was too scared to bus tables and take the risks associated with being an amazing person that follows their heart and dreams. Rather I was a scared kid that didn’t know how to grow up and do the things that I wanted to do. I wanted my parents to be proud of me (even though I knew that I could have been a professional finger painter and they would be proud of me). I wanted to prove to people that I was somebody. That I was smart. That I was accomplished. That I was amazing. That I was _______(fill in the blank). And I earned my fellowship. And a lot of personal unhappiness.
I loved law school. The friends that I made, the information I learned, but at the end of the day it was not who I wanted to be. I am not a suit and tie sort of guy. While I am a natural born arguer & bullshit artist, I am not a LAWYER, I am not a Washington D.C. politico asshole. I am a dickies and flip flops sort of guy. I am a cowboy boots and jeans sort of guy. And in law school I think at some point my internal Joe, the Joe I wanted to be, the Joe I truly was, died. And that led me down a very dark path. A self destructive path that took me about 5 years to crawl out of.
It was a dark path that led me to be ashamed of being me. The extensive list of embarrassing things that I did as Joey Jack Daniels. Things today I am mortified to imagine that I ever could have conceivably done. I was disrespectful to myself, to women, to family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, the internet, god. . . . pretty much everyone and everything, with the exception of animals, I just love animals.
A mentor of mine said something very interesting once that I never forgot. “Everything in my life that I am ashamed of is because of alcohol.”
And boy is that true. I need to learn to forgive myself, and hope that earth forgives me as well. I was a good time, but I was also an obnoxious ass that when I think back on the person I was and how I behaved during the years of 2007-2012, I want to crawl under a rock and die. . . but life goes and you can’t wallow in self pity and self deprecation.
At the end of the day, my current training is my therapy. I crossfit and do Olympic lifting as a way to make me a great ultra-endurance runner. I am allowing my thoughts to really examine ME and at times, silence my overactive mind. It seems so counterintuitive–I am anxious, I have an overactive mind, so I run in order to focus my thoughts on reflecting on my internal self, I crossfit in order to think of nothing but the workout at hand, and I run LONG distances in order to silence everything and turn of my brain.
This has been an interesting year- learning about ME, what I want, what I need, what I am disappointed with, what I am blessed with and where I need to go- TBC.
I am grateful for my life. I am grateful and lucky for all I have. I have so much more than so many. At the end of the day, my worries are trivial compared to the majority of earth. The fact that I can vent on the internet on a lame-narcasistic blog about me having enough spare time to train for hours in order to run 100 miles, is hilarious.
***Exciting side note, perhaps my nominal student loans will be paid off in the next 24 months and then maybe my amazing wife will allow me to be a space-cowboy Sasquatch-hunting writer gentleman farmer vegan chef that secretly eats meat LOL