Saturday, August 6, 2016
Just Do It
I've always been somewhat athletic (meaning I was better at sports than school) and have generally enjoyed athletics when done for fun. The ones I had to or have to do (running and yoga, respectively) I tend to dislike immensely. But that is another story for another time. As a person engaging in sports growing up, however, the ubiquitous Nike slogan, "Just Do It," never really resonated with me. Indeed, I saw quotes on the backs of T-shirts claiming, "pain is temporary, pride is forever," that seemed to shake my core more than the brand's three simple words but, recently, I've come across Nike's commandment in a variety of fashions.
This morning, I learned, indirectly, that my yoga studio had hired a new instructor. Gorgeous and accented, the young woman encouraged us to, "just doooooo it," when holding a difficult pose. Although her quote made me chuckle, it brought me back to an earlier time when "just doing it" was another course of action to be taken.
At thirteen-years old, I woke up on the day of my Bat-Mitzvah to the band 311 singing on the radio. I remember I woke to "Come Original" because I was nervous-as-fuck and generally remember everything about those specific 24-hours. Coming downstairs for breakfast, my father (who was the last person in my family to undergo such an ordeal) noticed my discomfort and stated something to the effect of "it's like they say in the Nike commercials, honey: just do it." As my father had begun exploring Eastern Religion several years before (which, looking back, generally brings the whole Bat-Mitzvah thing into question) I was used to him quoting the Dalai Lama or, even worse, an unknown monk. So hearing a familiar quote from a company pimped by the likes of Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippin, Andre Agassi and the like actually served to put me in better spirits. And indeed, reciting prayers infront of 120 people actually turned out to be not that bad (should you ever have to just involuntarily do it).
20 years ago at the Olympics.
But besides my silly Nike memory I've come across the slogan recently in situations other than my aforementioned yoga experience. In yoga, however, you begin to relax and, as you do, emotions that have somehow seemed trapped within the tenseness of your muscles are released smack dab into your consciousness, begging to be dealt with. And deal with them we must.
Much like the old joke about psychologists, when one begins to practice Bikram yoga, sentences beginning with, "Bikram says..." become much more common. And one thing Bikram says that has always resonated with me more than the Nike slogan is, "if something is hard, you should do it," (cue laughter). Lately, I've had to make a few decisions that have been difficult. But making the decisions which require letting go of our fears, inhibitions or whatever inevitably make us lighter and stronger.
Inspiration continues with the Mighty Mos Def.
Recently, The New Yorker released an article talking about something seemingly "low brow" for their publication: our happiness. Through the article (entitled, A Better Kind of Happiness), author Will Storr references Aristotle and his theory of happiness as an active endeavor, not something that lands on our porch one fine day. As opposed to delaying gratification (heaven) or seeking it constantly (headonism), Storr claims Aristotle's idea of eudaemonics strikes a balance between the two, neither delaying happiness or denying pain but working (constantly) in service of an ultimate goal (much like an Olympian). Hearing about the theory of eudaemonics made me think about a quote that truly resonated with me years ago. I once read in Vogue that when Donna Karan and her husband Stephen began practicing Zen Buddhism, he claimed he was now, "happier having been in his own life." For me, being afraid to make key decisions sometimes made me feel a bit dull, as though my life was placid but in separate painting of which I was not a part. Indeed, while hestitating to make difficult decisions can seem to keep us "safe", they often rob us of empowerment to make meaningful change in our lives. And empowerment... is essential.
Corny but, "I can."
Recently, a publication somewhat diametrically opposed to The New Yorker (The American Conservative) ran an interview in hopes of profiling the Trump supporter. While Trump supporters certainly run the gamut of social and idealogical spectrums, support is particularly concentrated in areas of Appalachia where many working class Americans have seen down and out days... placing them in diametric opposition with East Coast "elites". Within the interview, J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy discussed his Appalacian upbringing, claiming that many in the area felt a sense of disempowerment in their own lives. According to Vance, "[b]elieving you have no control is incredibly destructive, and that may be especially true when you face unique barriers." So, when it comes to difficult choices, sometimes "just doing it" provides us with a sense of control, no matter the consequence. And our sense of empowerment and happiness builds, our bodies are often the better for it. But, as stated before, that is another story for another time. In the meantime, if you need inspiration to "Just Do It", Nike's commericals seem to deliver more inspiration than their slogan. Enjoy!