While the declaration is instructive, I’m not sure I’ve put out Maximum Effort in a long time. The last time it might have happened was on my 2012 road trip where I rode my motorbike down to Portland and back. That was a great trip, and it definitely took some effort. Not sure if it was Maximum or not.
The one time I am certain I put out Maximum Effort was back when I took my motorcycle riding course. I was working very long days at Purolator, physically exhausting days, and racing from work to get to class on time. Then I was learning to ride the bike in the dark cold March evenings where we contended with fog, snow, and patches of very dark ice.
My entire week consisted of waking up at 5am to get to work by 730 so I could inspect my truck and plan my route. Then I spent the day hauling boxes on and off my truck. I had two hours between my last delivery and my first pickup, so I inevitably found some way to get in a nap somewhere, but it was never more than an hour and it was never enough.
I would get back to the depot at around 530, having put in 10 hours, and would then have to race to McMahon stadium to start my class. The only reason I was off work that early was because I’d made special arrangements with my manager to have someone make my last few pickups. Normally I wouldn’t be back at the depot until 6 at the earliest, but my class started at 6.
The class was a total of 20 hours, 6 to 10 every night of the work week, and we needed ever minute of it. Riding a motorcycle is actually fairly easy. Riding it slow on an obstacle course with fewer than three mistakes is fucking hard. Harder when it’s dark.
I’d get home at about 1030 with just enough time to make my lunch for the following day before crashing into bed.
That was a challenging week, but I managed it. I think the only way I managed it, however, was with anger. Anger brought me to determination. I’m not sure I’m capable of any other path. Years ago when I was working out regularly the only thing that kept me going was anger. Anger at my body for wanting to quit, anger at my lungs for burning, anger at myself for being so weak.
And now I’m reluctant to be that angry with myself ever again. After this hard relationship deterioration that left me angry nearly every day I’m now weary of it.
Over the past couple of days I’ve been feeling ill, some kind of incredibly brief flu virus. One day of intense all-body joint pain with zero appetite, and a second day only half as bad. The one thing I noticed through those days was how easy it was for me to get angry at the slightest things. I was angry with sudden noises, I was angry with slow lines, I was angry with people being too happy nearby. I was angry at some of my favorite music. Clearly, I was not in my best frame of mind. Luckily for me I noticed the disproportion and managed to not act on any of it. Given I stayed home through most of it this was relatively easy.
But anger is important and appropriate at times. And I need to be able to focus it properly again. I need to be able to dedicate myself to required writing without having to resort to anger and I’m not sure that’s possible.
We are what we do. Excellence, therefore, is not a goal but a habit.
Be excellent to each other. Be excellent to yourself.
Write the good stuff. Write the bad stuff. Write the stuff.
This is the stuff.