People often ask me how I do everything that I do. Writer, blogger, teacher, father, spa industry leader . . . I wear many hats (and try to wear them well.) I usually don’t know how to respond when someone asks me what my secret is, but I think I’ve finally figured it out: I’m not afraid of the pain.
I was thinking about this last week when I went to Barbados on vacation with my wife, our two-year-old son Dylan and our six-week-old baby Max. Traveling with two kids that young is not easy (in fact, it sucks) and most sane people wouldn’t even think of planning a trip like this.
Day one of our vacation was pretty miserable: getting two kids out of bed, fed and dressed at 5 a.m., mad dash to the airport, juggling strollers, boppies and baby bottles through the security checkpoint (our baby formula went through a chemical analysis that would make the cast of CSI proud) until we finally took off en route to Barbados. The four-hour plane ride was no picnic either, with a wriggling infant on each lap (particularly Dylan who seemed to only be able to distract himself from the discomfort of the flight by exploring new and innovative ways to annoy nearby passengers.)
You’re probably thinking we were finally able to relax once we landed in Barbados . . . No such luck. We went through emotional meltdowns with each child as they adapted to their new environment. So, by the end of the first day, I was exhausted, had a splitting headache, and was starting to wonder if this was a good idea.
But then came day two.
I woke up in beautiful Barbados greeted by smiles from the two well-rested boys (the fresh sea air being a sufficient cure for whatever was ailing them.) All around me, I was treated to a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean lapping at our villa just below our second floor balcony. By 7 a.m. I was surfing under a rainbow while turtles bobbed all around me. It was a fantastic, glorious day, and one I will remember for the rest of my life. But I couldn’t have had a day like this without taking on the pain that was required to get there.
I also think about this at the gym. I’ll be on an exercise bike doing intervals. I adjust it manually because I can’t rely on the bike’s “programs” to give me the intensity I need. Halfway through the workout I look up and see my face in the mirror. I’m beet red, veins are bulging out of my forehead, sweat is dripping off of me, and the grimace on my face shows that I’m not having fun. The “feel good” part comes later when the workout is done.
Suddenly, I look up and notice the guy next to me. He’s been on the bike even longer than I have, but he isn’t huffing and puffing like I am and he’s not sweating. In fact, he’s leisurely reading the newspaper while he slowly spins the pedals around at a lackadaisical pace. He’s “mailing it in.” Doing the minimum.
When I look around the gym, only about a third of those present have that same intense focus to their workouts that I do. A full two thirds are just getting by. I give them credit for showing up because showing up is half the battle. But the other half of the battle should hurt. I realize that everyone has to start somewhere, and a little exercise is better than no exercise. But I think most people don’t realize the amount of effort required to get real results.
For me, life is like that exercise bike. If it feels easy, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t do easy. I want to live a rich, full, meaningful life. I want to stand for things I believe in. I want to try things I’ve never done before. I want to work hard and love harder. I want to make a difference. I want go to places I’ve never been before. I want to take my “too young” boys on a surf trip to Barbados. And . . . I’m not afraid of the pain.