brief words on bereavement

“If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know exactly how it feels. And if you have not, then you cannot possibly imagine it.”
– Lemony Snicket

Over the weekend I lost a friend and continue to mourn the void he left. Today because of my bullheadedness I fear I pushed another friend away. As I forced to have a conversation with a young man that called the departed his best friend. A term that develops a more sacred meaning the older I get. Our conversation was more of a fight and then silence than the talk I had hoped for. It had become apparent that it is easy to push people away when emotions are high, for who’s sake I’m still not sure. Although very sobering thought has just occurred: if I didn’t pursue years of mindfulness training would be just as angry with the world as the young man I tried to talk to? Currently my eyes are moist and want to believe yes; as I tell myself its because of excessive yawning wanting to fight off sleep for a little longer to better organize these thoughts. But, it would be more accurate to say stumbling on an old album has summoned up a bevy of raw emotions in me.
I’ve said goodbye to grandparents, teachers, and friends before. But, when you watch someone grow up for more than a decade; like an uncle you’re invested in seeing them grow up and do great things. When the unthinkable happens you know exactly how it feels, and you need loved ones more than ever because no one else can possibly know how it feels.

Senpai won’t notice you(draft)

Recently I had a chance listen to  an interview with Eric Thompson, you know the “How bad do you want it?” guy; if you don’t here’s a video, I’ll wait… (approx 5min)

Now the interview itself was a surreal reminder to the master procrastinater I considered myself I have a long way to go. The thesis of Mr. Thomas’s story can be distilled down to: When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you’ll be successful. It was strangely refreshing for me to hear; because it reminded me when engaged I can go for days focused on a project; letting the results (good or bad) fuel the venture. But, like many motivational videos/ interviews the feeling faded, and a few days later the thought of his story edged back into my mind. As several friends all hitting the New Year wall early and asked “How do you stay motivated?”
In the back of my mind I was trying to translate the story.
There was a young man, you know,
who wanted to make a lot of money
and so he went to this guru, right.
And he told the guru you know
I wanna be on the same level
you are and the guru said
if you wanna be on the same level I’m on,
I’ll met you tomorrow at the beach…
I didn’t get very far. For one: I don’t have the heart to or attention to disclose to them my recent snatch ‘PR’ and other wins have from wanting ‘it’ more than most people are comfortable admitting to themselves; two because motivation is a game that explaining the rules in their entirety is more disservice than gift. 

My belief on motivation in short is its personalized and comes after bouts of success, failure and burnout with a daunting explanation that borders on new agey. Yet, I fumbled through an explanation that was reminiscent of a Rocky monologue, and equally as elegant, but at least they got the picture: Life works in seasons and don’t curse your waning motivation, find a way to recharge and press on. 
A little disappointed that wasn’t Thomas’s true thesis, or even what I exactly believed myself. Only in the end it offered what they needed, and surprisingly an understanding why they sought me out for. “Thanks Senpai!” Hit my inbox again and again. 
The word I stopped using when I hung up my gloves and retired from fighting had be come a fully viral meme. Bookish nonathletes accepted the name and an epiphany struck me like the 3/4 upper cut I threw once upon a time. The term ‘Senpai’ and specifically the cry to be “noticed by senpai” has entered the internet Zeitgeist and has become a meme thanks social media.

Finally, I could hear vividly in that moment what I what my advice and thoughts to my younger friends, should be. Of course it came though as an impression of ET (Eric Thomas):
You tryin’ to get motivated!? You want get senpai to notice you? Why’re you even worryin’ ’bout that? Of course senpai isn’t going to stop and notice you; their too busy grinding! Finding their way in the world! Don’t wait around for senpai, find a sensei! Get yourself a teacher that can give you the foundation you need, work hard and an then senpai will pay attention to you.
I can only wish capture a fraction of the energy E.T. has when delivering a speech or just going off on some student. But, after that moment I understood the microcosm of Senpai/Kohai trope: I was an de facto Senpai. Also the irony doesn’t escape me that I began writing as a way to refine my thoughts and create my own voice online, much like my mentors before me… Yes I want senpai to one day notice me too. And, this is where I’d like to share with the uninitiated a quick definition to what I am going on about, so you won’t feel compelled to search google about this concept and potentially terrifying Reddit posts that boils down to we all seek little bit of validation, growth, and mentorship we all need without noticing it. “Senpai/Sempai” is a Japanese honorific term used when addressing someone with elevated social status schools, sports, clubs, etc… but not exactly an authority figure like a teacher or manager; “I hope Senpai will notice me” very plainly is an anime trope to express unrequited admiration.

I sincerely think there’s a reason to why so many people have made chasing after the approval of thought leaders a cultural obsession. Or conversely why studying  celebrity culture is so much more rampant. Not just because of the ubiquity of famous people streaming their lives. Likely because everyday people don’t recognize the mentors in their lives and accept life lessons from them, but know they need life lessons to someone who made it. And this is something that I feel needs to change. The mentor – apprentice paradigm is in my all too American DNA: from a life multiple high school sports, martial arts, learning public speaking, to sale I’ve always had someone that would even if they loathed me answer my tough questions. And, sometimes make me realize why I’m so hungry to learn and strive to make it to their level. Today I never noticed until now but you’re doing a good job my diligent kohais out there. 

The HBDYWI full speech here:
http://howbaddoyouwantitspeech.blogspot.com/2014/03/how-bad-do-you-want-it-lyrics-full.html?_sm_au_=iVVK6r8spDnF5qPP

5 step diet plan

Today will be my one shot attempt to do something I have not attempted since college: smash words together and convince you I actually tried before heading out to a party, and remember to click post this draft.

Recently a friend coming to me, pain in their eyes as they said, “Aqueel, I need to get with you to work on a nutrition plan. I’m sick and tired of being fucking fat!”  My usual apathy and distracted nature couldn’t ignore his knee that was visibly swollen, angry and red. I still gave my generic prepared response, “Please get in touch with X who is much more qualified in the field of nutrition than I am.” Since then and several days of being mauled by my own guilt of inaction; here are the distilled method to creating a diet that will never make you feel like you’re on a diet ever again.

Still feeling the sting of their words and knowing what it’s like not having the body you once remembered today’s thoughts aren’t going to be validated by science journal, for the sake of time… and laziness, but will have greater efficacy than my usual training advice “Just train more.” and with that I defer to the favorite format of the internet: lists!

  1. EAT BREAKFAST.
    What we gain from eating breakfast, greater than the dubious studies that suggest it’s a great way to kickstart your metabolism; is think of it as a timestamp and a habit that successful athletes, CEOs, and even jerks on the internet like me can do which frames the rest of your day. “Most important meal of the day” is correct because no matter what time you wake up regularly you have to break your fast eventually. So, if for the next 4 weeks (or any other pop psychology study length of time that determines how long it takes to establish a habit) shove food in your gullet after you wake up. More so before you get sidetracked with the rest of your day and rationalize stopping at Taco Bell on the way to work.
  2. DRINK MORE WATER PERIOD.
    8 8oz glasses of water a day is the accepted convention, and I find no fault with this. But, when we take a moment to think about this, and remember how often you see me (or other mindful fit people) walking around with a gallon jug of water or canteen. Here’s why: I won’t remember to drink water unless I am physically reminded. And, getting up for water is terrible for workflow any ways. The solution 64oz is the magic number to get to and my gallon jug is 128oz (dang talk about surplus Gus) or the canteen 32oz means I just have to fill up the canteen twice and I hit my water goal, for the day.
  3. ORDER A SALAD WITH LUNCH AND DINNER
    Before getting meta with this entry the simple reason is once again behavioral. In America, we have terrible portions. Too large if you were unaware, and people generally will end up eating an extra 280 calories in chips/fries… starchy carbs and trans fats that are beyond necessary. Start your second and third meal of the day with a simple salad; not because its historically popular, but so you can feel better about the vegetables you’ve just consumed. In addition to curving your desire to obliterate that large burrito you’ve been day dreaming about since you woke up.
  4. EAT LESS SUGAR
    Don’t ask questions just challenge your willpower to skip the cookies, extra brownies, or one more mixed drink during happy hour because you deserve it.
  5. FIGURE OUT YOUR MACROS GOALS
    I’ve attempted to save the easiest and most difficult step for last. But, no excuses as we live in an era of ubiquitous technology that can grant on demand information; it is only so tough to search what is a ‘Marcos calculator’ and ‘What are my Macros’ enter your height, weight, level of activity and have churned out a guideline of how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates your body requires to keep moving. Adjust numbers as recommended if individual goals are to lose or gain weight.

 

An orgin story of the Savage Scientist (a draft)

A little while ago (5 years nearly), I resolved to write about my adventures rebuilding my own identity from the age old conflict of most life long athletes, recovering from an life altering injury. This one being the one that broke the camel’s knee and causing a retreat to playing it safe and using highly refined skills of running, marginally, fast to get fat at desk working at a 9-5 gig. Receiving a daily stipend of platitudes over social media, for find motivating things to post while my own fire was dying inside.

I share this because  it summarizes what happens all to often when something motivates us to take the fork in the road that is well worn, avoiding the road less traveled, simultaneously ensuring safety and disappointing our 9th grade selves. I promise to keep retrospectives to a minimum in the future; as the past lays the ground work that will be shared. But, the hope is as a debriefing exercise more than wistful nostalgia.

Look forward to my future posts:
My much abused 80/20 method to dieting.

Experiement Jund (data collection in progress)

So the mediocre student are starting a podcast with the master?