I had a childhood buddy whose answer to all that we faced as growing boys, like how to hit on the girls and how to get Murray’s Pomade to turn our naps into waves or curls, was “You got to be yourself, Jack” which is old school for “Keeping it real.”
And I thought of my philosophical friend the other day as I watched a man on TV who said that he: played a round of golf; read a book while teaching himself to play guitar; ran 10 miles while knitting himself a sweater; jumped out of a plane; became a ping pong master while recording his, debut album, which he sings in an auto-tuned voice and then he says, “How you ask? 5 Hour Energy!”
The bit’s funny but, whoa, what is this fantasy really all about? The dude did everything but drop dead, which would have been real, and from a couple of articles I’ve read the product is alleged to have caused death. But the stuff sold to the tune of 1.3 billion dollars last year. Seems there are a ton of people not “being themselves.”
I don’t understand the appeal. Just how much energy does a human being need? I Mean I put in a full day doing what I do with no sweat other than when I exercise which usually for me entails some stretches and, lately, a little weight work, and moving to some music or taking a nice long briskly paced walk. Sometimes all of the above.
That energizes me for everything else I do, checking out my email and facebook page, joking with my friends at Grant’s Deli when I pick up my cup of coffee, fixing a little something to eat… Depending on the day, I might get some writing in, some reading in, some time with my woman in, maybe some time with one of my kids or a couple of friends. I might participate in a rally or take part in or attend a forum of some kind, speak to a group of people, letting them know what’s on my mind, take in a movie or a play, and at the end of the day I’m ready to lay my old body down, not because all of my energy is exhausted but because it’s time to sleep. That’s how the cycle goes, isn’t it? Get up, stay as true to your agenda as you can, maybe watch your favorite show or listen to some good music on the radio or your iPad or Spotify or on whatever gadget you have, hit the sack, get some shuteye, and wake up and repeat.
Somehow I’ve managed to have ample enough energy to pull such days off. If I had any more energy what would I do with it? Break into cartwheels? Create new steps for the Minuet? Take an alligator for a walk?
But, okay, I’m retired and my kids are grown and some of their kids have kids so it doesn’t apply to me when 5 Hour Energy says “Finding the energy for work and family responsibilities is hard enough.” And there are no more moonlighting jobs in my life or evening and weekend college courses for me to squeeze in but I once did all that for decades without running “for the coffee” or grabbing “a soda” and then finding out a short while later that I “needed more.” I mean isn’t it true that nature, through food and the benefits of exercise, gives us all the energy we need for whatever it is we need to do? And all we have to do I would think is “Be ourselves, Jack!”
But it’s a mind game isn’t it, ranking right up there with society’s ever growing attempts at trying to mask the aging process with ideas about how “we’re only old as we feel.” I remember hearing an old man say that dying his hair made him feel younger and I wondered how the rest of his body made him feel as wrinkles lined his face like tributaries emptying into the Amazon River, as he stooped over, against his will, like an NFL All-Pro lining up to stop a run up the middle, as his hands shook like a gambler at the crap table ready to toss the dice. But, hey, what can I say if having hair the color of a moonless country night made him feel all right? But I couldn’t help but think of what he would be like if he approached the world with an attitude that said: “I can’t hide what time has done to my face and I can’t stand tall like I once could with grace and I can’t hold a glass of ice water without sounding like a member of the Tito Puente Band but look at the beauty of my hair, the silver and the gray. This is what you earn when you’ve traveled many a mile out here in the Milky Way.” Isn’t there some kind of ageless natural energy at play in that picture?
Well, I can only “be myself, Jack” and in that role I’ll just eat as right as I can and dance and walk as much as I can and take whatever energy I can from doing that. And leave those folks, who are willing to possibly jeopardize their health, seeking magic in a tiny bottle, to themselves.
But I can’t help but wonder how these folks would fare if they learned how to energize themselves, how to take time to be mindful each day of what lies ahead of them on their jobs. What if, whenever they can during their busy day, they slowed down and closed their eyes and breathed in deeply and reassured themselves of the skills and strengths they bring to their work? And what if when their day ended they squeezed in a workout of some kind? Or maybe that’s a beginning of the day enterprise or something done in the middle of the day – such is something that they have to work out for themselves as that’s what “You got to be yourself, Jack” is all about: keeping it real.