Dave Goes Barbarian – Rhythms

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Hey, Barbs. Mrs. Dave gets home tomorrow, and everything changes. Again. Always. Until the next time. You see, we’ve just about gotten settled into a routine, here at Caer Dave. It’s not the greatest, and there are some things I’d *really* like to change about it. Forex, the Wee Horde needs to start getting into bed earlier, so they can get up earlier and not make my morning a pit of stress and frustration.

Let me back up. Mrs. Dave is a direct exporter of freedom and republican values (that’s small-R republican, as in encouraging of republics) in the World’s Largest Seagoing Concern, the nautical wing of Uncle Sam’s Original Beatstick. For those of you familiar with the way family life works (functions is closer) under such a regime, she goes and does things, and we adjust to her not being around.

I’ll be honest: it’s exhausting. I haven’t read any Fiore in a solid week. I haven’t written fiction since before she left. The house is livable. Barely. I’ve wandered into and out of physical training, struggling to find a sustainable rhythm.

I have a pet theory that this is why the dependapotomous stereotype exists. It’s hard to live without a network – social apes that we are – and even harder to raise kids when your partner ups and leaves for weeks and months at a time. It’s easy to go with what’s easy, and that way lies stagnation, soul-death, and obesity, usually. When you put all your available energy into just keeping things together, in the face of grinding depression and frustration (and there’s a lot of that to be found in solo parenting, trust me) the thing you find is that past a certain threshold, you run out of can-do.

An example: I got the kids up, or rather, the one that wakes up early got me up. I managed to piece myself together after staying up too late doing something that seemed important at the time, all the while deflecting inquiries about why breakfast wasn’t ready, yet. I finally get downstairs to start the First Cup of Coffee and get a pot of oatmeal going to assuage The Hungry. Then back into the Hordlings’ Den to rouse the sleeping monsterling. That took most of an hour, from dead-asleep to not-quite-screaming-awake. Then another half an hour to get them both dressed, downstairs, and sitting with bowls in colors they allow they might eat from. We now have ten minutes before preschool actually starts, and the Hordling Princess still has hair like a haystack.

That was a not-entirely-fictional account. But, by the time I’ve dropped them off at their respective places of learning and returned to the castle to figure out the day’s tasks, I’ve already ridden an emotionally draining roller-coaster of adrenaline spike and crash. All I really want to do for the rest of the day is snuggle up to my favorite whiskey bottle and stare into space for a while.

But, again, that way lies death. Not immediate death, but the eventual concrete expression of mortal finitude.

And this isn’t limited to military-adjacent existence, no. The thing about this is this is what happens to modern Western barbarians. Period. There are going to be a rare few who avoid it through quirky random happenstance, and we’re allowed to hate them. They probably choke on their silver spoons and get tired of choosing which sports car to drive today. The rest of us? We get the questionable privilege of deliberate effort to feed our souls and raise our spirits.

Dave, you yacked on and on about your own life, and then how everything kinda sucks.

I did. I don’t regret it. We need a solid basis for discussion of solutions. A big one is ritual. I’ll talk about that in the future. The one at which I’ve been hinting thus far, today, is harnessing the rhythms of your life for the better, rather than letting them become an annoying cheese grater of a detriment. Okay, look. In my Forex Morning, I mentioned staying up too late the night before. If that’s you, too, and you’re not struggling with insomnia, or apnea, or small children, or other genuine sleep dysfunction (see a counselor or physician, if you are) there is going to be some way to fight that. Set an alarm. Sit down and noodle out on paper the whys and wherefores of your habits, and what leads you to not getting enough good sleep. Is your mattress crap? Do you keep the house too warm? Too cold? Does your significant other kick you awake at night? Or like me, do you just relish the quiet after the Hordlings have racked out for the night, and end up staying awake longer than you should?

If you aren’t getting enough PT, run the program on that one. Weightlifting, one of my preferred PT regimens, requires a chunk of time to complete. With running solo on two pint-sized tyrants, I just don’t have that kind of time. Maybe eventually, I can pay someone to watch them. Maybe not. In the meantime, I’m digging into things I can do that don’t require all my focus and can be accomplished around their schedule. Because that’s what I have energy for. And a lot of days, not even that.

Finally, hold your goals with a light grip. If you’ve heard the concept of the Non-Zero Day, use that. At the end of the day, did you accomplish something toward your goals? Then you had a Non-Zero Day, and that’s enough. Don’t beat yourself up, get a good night’s sleep, and get back at it tomorrow.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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