I forget where I first heard it, but there’s this old tale of a benevolent couple who was next door neighbors with a really awful couple (You know the ones – mean to everyone, even each other.). They each, in turn, entertained an old wandering vagrant – the first, hospitably, like an honored guest – and the second merely driving him off so that they could get back to feeding their pigs. (Did I say both couples were pig farmers in medieval times? Yeah – the neighborhood must’ve stunk.)
The old vagrant – unbeknownst to any of them – was a wise wizard, who then told them each that whatever they first did the next day, they would do all day. Both couples then promptly forgot, as people are wont to do from day to day, and then woke up the next morning to go about their days.
The benevolent couple was, of course, industrious; and the man began the day making a count of what little gold they had. The wife set about to bring in a sheaf of wheat to thresh for their afternoon’s bread. As the day went on, the man’s coffer never ran out of gold for him to count, and it piled high on the table, spilling over onto the floor. The woman brought in sheaves of wheat until they had more in their home than they’d ever had in their barn.
The awful couple started the day as well, the husband groggily shuffling out to slop the hogs. Unable to stop once he’d begun, the happy hogs’ troughs were soon overflowing with all manner of corn cobs and household refuse for them to eat. When the wife saw her husband doing this, she angrily bent down to pick up a stick to beat him with. At the end of their day, their yard was overflowing with nasty pig slops and the shrew wife had a pile of sticks higher than she was tall.
The lesson to this fable, I believe, is one of inertia: bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. Also, however you start your day is typically how you’ll carry through with it. If you start well, you tend to finish well also.
Every scant now and then, I bear this is mind. Take today, for instance… my Mom called, waking me up around a quarter to 11. This was because I’d stayed up until nearly 4 (if I recall correctly) doing nothing of any import. That was because I’d had a mid-day nap that day for about five hours. That was because I’d become depressed for the previous day and a half. And finally (as far as I can tell), that was because I’d failed to write or do pretty much anything I was expected to (for class) for about the last two weeks.
This could be a lesson on the ripple effect, but I’m sticking with inertia for now. I began badly. I ended worse.
The point is, when I hung up with her – my subconscious telling me I’d go back to sleep – I consciously decided to begin this day correctly, and got up to lay out some clothes, got a 1.5L water from downstairs, came back upstairs to vacuum my floor (which needed it badly), and then stretched out and got down there on the floor to “start” with the first crunches I’ve done in what seems like forever.
The point is, I feel like maybe now that I’ve made myself do one beneficial thing for myself (that at first seemed unsavory), that I am more likely to do what I need to do today… which is write about 30-40 pages on a long-overdue feature script.
After I take a nice shower, of course.