The Ninth Path

Today we will start with a letter from the good Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. The letter itself is worth a read, especially if, say, you’re having an existential crisis. But if you’re too lazy to read it,  I’ll except the sound bites for you.

I first encountered the good doctor as the unofficial sponsor of a rogue student council run by this crazy dude in high school. He ran an off-ballot campaign just to mess with the system; he obviously had no interest in student council. It was really funny at the time, but I think you kinda had to be there. I wonder whatever happened to Alexei?

OK, back to the letter, following the guidance of Hunter, let’s talk about goals.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN— and here is the essence of all I’ve said— you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Ah the elusive ninth path. You likely have some fitness goals (even if they’re to just get off the couch once in a while). But what if you just can’t get it together? Well, then maybe it’s time to try something new. Find the one thing that will get you off the couch. The one thing you haven’t tried before. Maybe it’s just walking the mutt an extra block. Or maybe you’d like riding a bike or tennis or something. You’ll never know until you try. Don’t just assume the same old options are all that’s available to you. If your elliptical or treadmill is now a clothes rack, just sell the damn thing and try something new. You’ll have more space in your house and a few bucks to try swimming at the local pool. “We must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal.”  In other words, you need to do what works for you and improves your own situation, and if you aren’t having success, maybe you just haven’t found your thing yet. But if you try to do something you hate, you’ll maybe have short term progress, but you won’t get out of bed at 6 am (OK, 6:45) to do it on that cold rainy morning when all you really want to do is lay in bed all day.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life.

The most commonly repeated diet mantra is basically this: that it’s not a diet, but a way of life.  So maybe you really shouldn’t have a goal at all, but an aim to change your lifestyle. I think this approach is easier when it comes to changing eating habits, but maybe not as much on fitness goals. The approach would be, I want to be stronger, rather than, I want to lift 10 lbs heavier by the end of the year. I think that works too. It’s more important to simply improve rather than hit a rather arbitrary number; what’s the difference between 9 lbs and 10 lbs, really? Something to think about.

Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know— is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

So what’s your ninth path? Try something new, especially if you’re in a rut. The editor-in-chief really encourages you to take her, er, your dog, on a longer walk.

Back to our regularly scheduled drivel about cheez and food next time, I promise!

3 thoughts on “The Ninth Path”

  1. What?! I was not meant to binge on Season 7 of Mad Men and Cheese Curls? Oh and don’t forget the Girl Scout cookie dessert! I’ll be searching for my ninth path especially when it comes to physical fitness. To date I have not found any physically demanding activity that I actually enjoy enough to get up earlier than I already do. But I am doing a little better with making it to the gym before I go home in the evening for the nightly pursuits. Maybe I should get a leash for my cats and take them for walks. That would certainly provide some excitement. I’ll let you know if I find the ninth path.

    1. Binging on Mad Men and cheese curls sounds like a perfect evening to me! Two of my favorite vices. I finished season 5 ages ago. i think i might just binge through the last two seasons.

  2. Well that sentence was supposed to say – before I go home in the evening for the nightly sedentary pursuits. Sigh.

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