Thursday, January 3, 2013

The "Used To"s

To my son Tommy,

One of the most interesting and confounding phenomenon of human nature is the tendency to stop doing those things that are good for you.  "I used to do that but now I don't" is a common phrase heard around this time of year and is usually followed with an empty promise to resolve to start again.  This trait is further proof that we as humans want to avoid any work or effort in our lives no matter if the results are good or bad.

These "Used To"s are usually followed by direct consequences of stopping this action, such as,  "I used to go to the gym all the time but now I am so out of shape" or "I used to stretch daily but now I would be lucky to touch my toes".  The problem with this is we say these comments as if it is okay.  For some reason rather then putting in the extra effort of the habit, we some how think the trade off is worth not having to go to the gym or stretch or eat right or whatever task that we used to do that helped us.  It is truly befuddling.

Then the "Used To"s start being followed by the lame excuses, such as, "I used to walk all the time but who has time for that nowadays" or "I used to be so organized but now life is so hectic".  First off, these excuses are lame and not well thought out.  Some of these excuses will sound really good and many people will accept them as perfectly legit reasons why you no longer do something.  Don't fall into that trap.  Learn to recognize an excuse for what it is and work past it immediately.

Now there a few "Used To"s that are worth having in your life.  Right now "I used to smoke but quit" is one of the best phrases of my life.  But for the most part the "Used To"s are reserved for habits I have lost that were good for me and really helped me in my life.

A recent "Used To" I found was playing my saxophone.  I used to do it all the time and, though the tangible benefits of playing an instrument are a little tougher to see, I believe playing the sax was good for my soul.  I pulled it out the other day and kind of figured I'd be able to pick up right where I left off.  Well my embouchure disagreed with that train of thought and the lower octaves were a bit difficult.  At first I thought it was just the pads and cork on the sax being old and perhaps dry rot but that was just trying to shift blame from me to my circumstances.  I had to accept it, the sax was okay (though it could use a tune up) but it was the lack of doing and playing for about a decade n the operators part that stopped me from hitting anything below a G note without squeaking an octave higher.

Don't let your life fill with a bunch of "Used To"s.  It is easy to change and just takes effort to maintain a habit.  Don't wait for a new year to resolve to do those things that you should have been doing all along.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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