In the basement of my parent’s house, in what used to be my old room, my brother hung a list of commitments. They read like a creed for self-improvement and all four-bullet points have always resonated with me. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you why those commitments were important enough for me to tattoo them on my forearm and the significance of the Brown Recluse.
My creed flows through my veins and follows those lines in a tattoo.
Hanging from the bottom of a shelf in the room we once shared is the following:
Develop my mind and share my knowledge.
Face my fears and conquer them.
Extend my hand in friendship and fairness.
Master my body and control my actions.
The aforementioned challenges are listed, inexplicably without so much as a title or by line, almost like a dare to those of us that lament the descent of humanity. “Want the world to be better? Start with yourself, Sucka!” After all, we define ourselves by our choices. I later found out that these four commitments weren’t even in my brother’s handwriting. He told me that a friend of his had written those after she learned them in a Martial Arts course. I suppose that makes it fitting that I added the Brown Recluse next to the words. To me, the Brown Recluse is a reminder of my father’s advice. The BR is a very deadly, yet unaggressive spider. My father’s advice has always been “don’t start none, won’t be none.” The BR only attacks after others have started what’s perceived as a fight.
My mother’s advice has always been to “just be nice to people”. I often just want to help people. There are times when I have to be careful about how I present my help so as to not come off as arrogant or some sort of stereotypical male problem fixer. When I consider the first commitment*, I consider the story I’ve told before about the high school baseball coach that laughed at me instead of helping. I’m excited to help anyone that comes to me for help. The fact that the person was strong enough to ask for help is an indicator of their future success in the endeavor. I can’t see the future of anyone’s life or potential, but asking for help is a great start. In my vague life goal of helping those who are willing to help themselves, it’s important that I develop my mind in order to be able to share my knowledge.
*It’s worth mentioning… I’m unaware of a specified order to these commitments, but the order in which they were written has always seemed to have an ideal chronology in my opinion.
I’m on a perpetual path to development of the mind. I’m a lifelong student. Whether the identity as student is defined by tuition and textbooks or being attentive/present in my everyday experiences, I am a lifelong student. I’m a few months away from completing the course requirements for my BS in Kinesiology. In January, I’ll begin my pre-requisites for Occupational Therapy school that will begin in Fall 2017. It’s a three year program, which means I’ll be “finished” in 2020.
Rant Tangent: Whenever I mention that I’m a student, the question that follows as a sort of sympathetic nervous system punch reflex is… “How long do you have left?” or “How much more school do you have?” or “How long until you’re done?” or something like that. I’m sure that all students can relate. I swear on Baby Jesus’ poopy diaper, I wish I knew why in the fuck everyone feels the need to ask that question. I’ve heard it so much over the past three years that I considered making a t-shirt that read: “Yes, I’m in school. Don’t ask me how much time I have left!” Could you imagine if we asked people that question about their jobs or their romantic relationships!? “You work for Verizon? How long do you have left?” or “You’re dating Felicia!? How much longer until you’re done?” It’s a pointless fucking question! If I tell you three years or nine years, do you know of a way to decrease my sentence in the American system of higher learning? You don’t?! Weird. Back to my point…
I’m developing my mind with each new course. The second step of the first commitment, the action initiative, is challenging because it’s important to share knowledge respectfully lest we come across as condescending or pedantic to others. Have you ever learned something new in a course that you’ve taken and then took it upon yourself to “educate” people as if the thing they’re doing (and you were just doing a week ago) is the dumbest thing ever to be done? While I’ve certainly been guilty of that in the past, I don’t want to be that guy. I work in a gym and in order to avoid coming across as a mansplainer, I’m very hesitant to approach a female and correct her form unless she is in my class or one of my clients. I make an exception if she’s about to hurt herself. In any case, I make sure that I have her permission to offer a suggestion before I attempt to share my knowledge. I’m hesitant to approach a male and correct his form for very different reasons. I’m not worried about coming off as a mansplainer with him. Instead, I’m avoiding the uphill climb of the male ego to get him to hear me.
In general, I’m willing to share with those that ask. Unsolicited advice isn’t solicited for a reason. As a future Occupational Therapist, I’ve been asked with which specific population I’d like to work. The answer happens to be the same for the clients that I’m eager to help as a Fitness Coach. As vague as it may sound, I only want to help those that are willing to help themselves. If a person isn’t willing to develop (and change) their mind it will be a challenge to change their body. Changing your body (gaining muscle, losing fat, increasing speed, decreasing stress, or improving hydration to name a few examples) may mean that multiple aspects of the way you think must change. If someone is unwilling to do something new, they won’t accomplish new goals. So, which population do I want to work with as an OT? The humble. If you have a sense of entitlement as if the world owes you strength, I may not be the therapist for you. If you acknowledge that strength is a choice and you’ve decided to step up and commit on an emotional level, we can accomplish something stellar together. If you’re only interest is the fastest way to get stronger and get back to what you love doing, I may not be the therapist for you. If you’re willing to be patient, put in the necessary work, and celebrate small victories on the journey of healing, we can accomplish something brilliant together. If you think that a few hours a week with me heals all and you’re not willing to do homework to facilitate healing, I may not be the therapist for you. If you understand that everything you do with and to your body (including sleeping habits) will have an affect on your healing, we can accomplish something spectacular together. If your mental cup is full of unverified information from pop culture magazines and you want to debate a science-based approach, I may not be the therapist for you. If you’re willing to approach with a clean slate (open mind), ask questions, listen, and read references to verify what we’ve discussed, we can reach your goals with conviction instead of hubris.
In order to become the best therapist that I can be, I am in need of a mentor. Regarding my motivation, someone once asked me, “how long have you been like this?” Before telling her the story of the Baseball Coach (see above) I told her, “When I was young I searched for inspiration in other people. When I found it in myself, I decided to be the inspiration for myself and others that have the fire. Anyone can burn hot, burn brightly and endure. Giddyup!” That’s my intention as a coach. Now, I’m seeking inspiration again in the form of a mentor. If you’re reading this and you know an Occupational Therapist that lives in the Bay Area (or is easily accessible by phone/email in another area of the world) and is willing to mentor me with guidance, tutelage, and possibly volunteer hours in their office, please put us in contact. I’m trying to accomplish something which I’ve never accomplished before and I’m seeking help to make it happen. I am willing to help myself and step outside of my comfort zone in order to make this life change happen. I need an Occupational Therapy mentor and I hope that someone reading this can help guide me to such an apprenticeship. I’m hoping to find someone that has developed their mind and is now willing to share their knowledge.
If a friend forwarded this to you, be sure to visit the site, scroll to the bottom and subscribe. Next week, I’ll share my interpretation of the second commitment: Face my fears and conquer them.
Spotify has made some changes that mean I was able to create an account without having a goddamned Facebook account. So, I’m back on Spotify so that I can share some music with you all.
Spotify Playlists for the upcoming Studio Road Ride Classes
Look me up under the username JetNoirMuse to follow my playlists/posts.