Where’s your head at?
If you would have broken into my house last Sunday night around 6:47pm, you would have caught quite a scene.
Imagine, if you will, a shirtless CJ, with a poorly taped up and bloodied hand, chowing down on pancakes, while rocking out to country music bumping at full blast, dancing like his hair was fire, with all the lights out in the house.
Do you ever have a moment where you all at once become aware of how crazy you might look to an outside observer… if you were, for instance, the star of your own Truman Show?
The crowd is getting their money’s worth tonight! Lol.
So you might be wondering… how the heck did I get here?
In keeping with last week’s theme, let’s reverse engineer and piece this puzzle together.
Why is CJ shirtless?
This one’s easy… It’s July in St. Louis and even in an air-conditioned house, it gets hot sometimes. Plus I’d just been outside getting some Vitamin D while reading a book… so mystery 1 solved.
Why were the lights out?
Because I read too many books and know the adverse affects artificial light has on your circadian rhythms and how this can disrupt sleep. #Science
Why is CJ’s hand bandaged up like he just survived a knife fight with a ninja?
We gotta rewind a little bit more for this one.
Earlier that day, I had a decision to make…
Chill out and do nothing (highly appealing after a sweltering Saturday helping a friend insulate an attic)… OR… go to the batting cages, have some FUN (novel concept) and hit some balls (like you’ve told yourself you would do “some day” for the last several years).
I chose the latter… although it was no easy feat getting there.
I was practically giddy as I collected my old TPX, put on some tennis shoes and headed for my car.
Three minutes later I was stalled at a stop light.
The summer heat’s got nothin on ole’ Ceej, but my Saturn’s battery had just about had it. I pushed my car in neutral to the side of the road… proceeded to sweet talk my girl into giving it another go, turned the key over and we were off again. I stalled again at a gas station en route to the Auto Zone, but with a little coaxing, my dear little Saturn has the heart of a champion (just like her owner) and traversed the gap to the shop.
After a quick pit stop with a thoughtful mechanic and an unruly customer who was literally honking at the front of the store to get attention so she wouldn’t have to get out of her car (a story within the story)… I was back on my quest for the cages.
While I’d never been to Tower Tee batting cages before, the atmosphere was immensely nostalgic.
I was transported back in time to my teenage years when my top aspiration was to play second base for the St. Louis Cardinals. I would go to the cages and swing at balls until my hands went raw with blisters, and then I’d swing some more. Dad was paying for the tokens back then, so I could typically go as long as I wanted.
[Pic of Tower Tee batting cages which will be closed for good by the time you read this email.]
There was something about baseball that signified the essence of summer for me. With Mike Shannon calling the play-by-play on the outdoor speakers, it felt like I’d taken a Delorian right back to when I was fourteen again. I think swinging the bat was actually more fun as a 35-year old though, because it was less serious now. There was no pressure to make the next select baseball team, or try to convince the next batch of high school coaches that I deserved a shot.
There was just baseball. See the ball. Hit the ball. It’s a romance that’s been aptly described in such films as The Sandlot, the Rookie, and For the Love of the Game. It’s special.
But it comes with a cost.
Apparently the callouses I’ve built on the pullup bar don’t translate to the grip on a baseball bat. My hand is tattered… but I get a kick out of the battle wounds.
When I get home, I crudely tape a napkin around my hand (which looks suspiciously like something out of a crime scene) while I prepare my dinner.
So with another piece of that original puzzle in place…
Why is CJ eating pancakes?
These aren’t your average pancakes! This recipe calls for 1 banana and 2 eggs. That’s it! I add blueberries, cacao nibs, and walnuts to really amp things up and drizzle some organic honey on top for a mouth-watering flavor that Uncle Bill’s wouldn’t recognize if it punched them in the face (with my mangled, bloody mit).
Why is CJ dancing?
I take myself too dang seriously for the most part. I’ve had a visceral experience at the batting cages. I’ve got some rare sugar (from the honey) flowing in my blood stream. And I’m discovering some new music on Spotify. Time to dance like nobody’s watching… because, nobody is! Derek’s out of town and unless this really is the Truman Show, then nobody is watching… so let it rip!
Why country music?
I’m a student of everything. Including and especially myself… my tendencies… what makes me tick… and why.
When I write posts about examining your own beliefs… beliefs that you believe to be true and evaluating whether or not they’re actually objective (hint: they almost never are)… I’m not just giving advice to you. This blog is essentially my diary. I’m trying to articulate lessons as I absorb them. Most of the advice you see is directed at me, and I’m hoping to illustrate it in a way that will provide you with the same epiphany I’ve had on said topic.
So, in this instance…
BELIEF: I hate country music.
PHILOSOPHER’S QUESTION: Is my belief actually true?
On the surface it seems silly. I’ve been on this planet long enough to know what I like and don’t like, right?
But is it possible that I’ve eliminated an entire genre of music due to some misplaced bias that I adopted in my developing years?
After all, “I hate country” has been my story since I was old enough to formulate an opinion about music. My old, crumudgeony, grade-school bus driver, Wentzel, played country on the way to school. The old, twangy stuff that always spotlights a dead dog or a man’s love for his truck. And I hated it!
My parents and siblings echoed this sentiment that country was stupid and you never heard it in my Dad’s Jeep or my Mom’s station wagon.
And besides that, I’m a “hard core” guy. (Or at least that was the identity I wanted to assimilate growing up.) Gimme some Metallica, some Eminem, and some Linkin Park and let’s flippin’ RAGE!
So cool, you’ve formed a belief.
And you want that belief to be right, don’t you? Because YOU want to be right!
So you find “tent poles” to support that belief.
And once you have enough tent poles, that belief can become part of your identity.
And now (here’s the dangerous part)… there’s no longer a discussion.
Belief becomes IDENTITY… which becomes REALITY… which becomes FACT… and your brain is cued to shut down in disgust whenever you hear anything country.
Country sucks. That’s my truth. That’s my fact.
Unless it’s not.
Let’s pick at that belief and see if there are any weak spots.
Do you actually hate ALL country? You do recall tapping your foot to Garth Brooks back in the day? You did start feeling some Florida Georgia Line and even sang along last week…
What if you didn’t hate country? Or at least not ALL country? What if you listened to it with new ears? Without a preconceived belief? Without judgment over an entire genre? Would you be willing to be wrong?
So I let Spotify do it’s magic and suggest some country songs. And wouldn’t you know it, I don’t hate country!
Granted, I don’t like all the songs… but that’s a silly statement because I don’t like all the songs in any genre.
Now you’ve opened a new door. Now you can savor a song for its own merits. Now you can listen with a clean palate.
You can even jam out to it in the privacy of your home at full blast when nobody’s watching.
Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?
Maybe you don’t hate vegetables.
Maybe you could be a morning person.
Maybe you are good enough.
Maybe you do like green eggs & ham.
Maybe you’re an adaptable human being capable of anything you set your mind to.
And maybe you don’t know yourself even a fraction as well as you think you do.
Maybe, under the right circumstances, you can reflect upon a day where your car died twice, your hand got torn to ribbons, you’re listening to music you’ve sworn to detest…
And you’d actually consider that a good day…
Maybe a great day…
Maybe the best Sunday you’ve had in recent memory…
But it all starts with taking some risks.
It starts with getting out of your comfort zone.
It starts with having the humility to question everything we think we know.
Sometimes you gotta throw yourself a change up… and see where the road takes you.
CJ’s Book of the Week:
“Learning to Breathe Fire” by J.C. Herz
“Skedge” for 7/9/18-7/14/18
Manchester (Class Times: Mon-Fri @ 5:30/7:00/8:30am & Satuday @ 7am)
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