I started a select few days of my senior year of high school with half-hour runs on the treadmill, a decent breakfast and a cold shower.
On these days, I’d be sitting in my first class of the day when I realized more than just how ready I was to visit the bathroom after getting a head start on my daily water intake goal. I’d realize how different my surroundings felt after I grabbed hold of the morning.
After all, it was the same classroom, the same people that surrounded me on the days I woke up as late as possible, rolled out of bed, stood under hot water in the shower and ate glorified sugar treats before rushing out the door.
More energized, I was able to pay more attention and perform much, much better in class. This was huge. I knew the great majority of the schoolwork and the topics it covered were useless but on those days I excelled at playing the game.
Without fail, I’d have a resounding feeling on these unique days that made me wonder why I didn’t live like that every day.
I don’t know if I did then, but now when I think about lifestyle topics such as this, I do so in terms of historical figures. For example, I realized how plain stupid it is to lay in bed and use a phone when I thought:
Would George Washington ever have done this?
Of course not! Washington would’ve been seen sitting at a desk reading a book or writing on fancy paper with one of those fancy pens with a feather at the end — not laying down in the most comfortable position possible indulging in the most lazy activity possible.
Similarly, how often do you see older people not dressed up a bit? I took note of this when I saw an older guy this past fall wearing a nice shirt tucked into his nice pants while mowing the lawn. It hit me how inefficient it seemed to dress up for a day of yard work!
And that’s what it comes down to: inefficiency. If we’re “just” doing quick shopping or tasks at home, why would we go out of our way to shower and dress nicely? It would require us to shift our paradigm from cutting corners to remembering that this day counts.
That’s the angle that interests me most: We seem to place less value on our days now.
Washington or Abraham Lincoln or some such person rising early, visiting some shops, writing detailed correspondence and eating meals with friends and family doesn’t sound very far fetched.1 So how is this any different than waking up, picking up some things at Meijer, catching up on email and having dinner with our family and friends?
I don’t think there is a difference. We simply care less now. Efficiency has displaced self respect on our priority list. We’ve gone far enough down this road that whole days simply lack value to us. It’s really a shame that we write off days — the building blocks of our temporary existence — as we lunge toward the next exciting thing on our calendar.
I’m very guilty of this. In fact, as I write about taking charge of the day and dressing up no matter what’s on your to-do list, it’s 3 p.m. and I’m still in my pajamas having eaten only a bowl of oatmeal today.
This is not how I want to spend my life. Instead of lunging toward the next occasion worth putting effort into, I intend to draw the line and take my days more seriously.
I expect that approaching each day like this will help me make better choices about how to spend my time. It’s difficult to give Twitter and other passive activities much attention when you’re busy writing detailed correspondence.
- I know this a majorly stripped-down version of the daily schedule of past times. I have many biographies to read but this is the extent of my knowledge right now. ↩