The Commander Within

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You know, it really doesn’t matter how you feel.

I keep telling myself that, anyway, because I think that one simple sentiment is the antidote to a lot of what passes for mental illness.

Now, it’s easy for me to go to the other extreme and completely ignore how I’m feeling. That isn’t good or wise. If I just push through my routines like a robot, refusing to ease up when I’m really tired or sick or just down, then it’s only a matter of time before I burn out completely. I get migraines, I get depressed, I start sleeping over 10 hours a night. It’s no good.

The balance, I guess, is taking your emotions into account without letting them dictate your behavior. More and more, I think about my emotions like they’re a small child: I have to respect where they’re coming from, because they’re always authentic and natural, but at the same time, I have to guide them into more moderate and reasonable behavior. I have to maintain both perspective and command.

I have a hard time with the idea of command. For all my apparent mildness in person, I’ve got quite a rebel inside me. But even though it might be rare, I do think there’s such a thing as powerful, benevolent leadership. It’s not aggressive or posturing or any of that alpha male crap; it’s humble, thoughtful, but firm.

I like firm in this context. I want to be firm like a tightrope, not solid or unyielding like a rock. A tightrope will accept the weight placed on it — it bends, it has some give, but only in natural proportion to the weight.

Increasingly, that’s how I see leadership or command. And really, I’m talking about inner leadership: that part of you that marshals all the wild, untethered forces in your soul and focuses them toward a goal.

Whatever that goal is, I’m starting to see that I won’t get there by just following my feelings. They’re wind-tossed, chaotic. And yet I have to listen to them. I have to take them into account without giving them command.

Meanwhile, I can’t let my inner commander become a tyrant. I can’t get so carried away with the idea of myself that I lose my actual self.

Anyway, I don’t know. That’s what came out. Maybe my thoughts turned to leadership because of the inauguration. I’m trying not to overthink the shit I write on this blog. I’d rather be honest than profound or polished. I’m beginning to find that writing is an outlet for me, not the craft I tell myself it should be. If there’s any place for me to unleash those wind-tossed thoughts and feelings, it’s here.

The place for discipline is making my bed, cleaning my room, doing my job, hitting my training goals. That’s when I pretty much disregard how I feel and suck it up.

This morning I started to berate myself for all the things I need to accomplish. Then I thought: you know what? It’s my fucking Sunday morning. Fuck all of that. I’m going to rest.

I guess that’s the first rule of generalship: pick your battles.

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