I read an interesting quote in my paperback vampire novel two weeks ago. The vampire Pandora spoke to her victim before sucking the blood from his body, telling him, “You should do something every day simply because you would rather not do it.” It was solid advice, and something that’s stuck with me.*
Since I’ve read the quote, I’ve gone to the dentist and purchased protein powder. These events are relevant to this story.
For the past two months, my diet consisted of a daily gallon of salad and some oatmeal. Note the lack of protein.
At my first physical in seven years, the doctor told me that I should eat lean protein in the morning to boost my metabolism and make my hair grow long like Tarzan and to make my muscles bulge from my slacks and Christmas sweaters.
I was ready for this to be a huge hassle. The idea of having to plan to eat protein seemed so unnatural to me that I hated myself for even thinking about it. Nevertheless, I figured I should follow the doc’s orders, so I bought Musclez protein powder, 2 dozen eggs, 5 cans of beans, and 6 cans of tuna and prepared for the lean protein haul. As it turns out, garbanzo beans taste incredible prepared can-to-microwave, but this was only a minor consolation for the protein nuisance.
In order to motivate myself to become a protein-eater, and thinking of that vampire quote,** I said that this was going to be the one thing that I do every day, the thing I do in order to build character and become famous and successful.
Shortly after my trip to the doctor, I went to the dentist, who peeled my gums off and sandblasted my teeth before removing the shards one by one. In the midst of removing a tooth splinter, he asked, “How often do you floss?” “Never,” I said. “You should floss,” he said.
I hate flossing. It takes time and it isn’t rewarding. So I thought to myself, this could be my thing, the thing I do everyday even though I don’t want to. Almost as soon as I’d resolved that conflict, I came across a glaring contradiction. I already had the one thing: the protein! And then they came like a flood, the millions of things I do every day that I’d rather not do, like shaking hands with all the invisible people in my room every morning, sleeping in occasionally, going to work, and getting my hair cut.
My day was filled with things I do even though I’d rather not. True, most of these activities are things I have to do and don’t do just for the heck of it, but still – 75% of my day is built out of necessity.
So I thought, maybe something equally important is finding an activity I love doing so much that I’d rather die than not do it. That’s why I do improv, and make time every day to eat calcium chews and sing loudly to myself in public.
And I solved the flossing problem by putting a quarter in a jar every time I floss; one day that jar is going to buy me a Carnival cruise ticket.
*This story isn’t true. The quote is from somewhere else, but I couldn’t remember where.
**Again, not actually from a vampire.