Consistency is 4 Out of 5 Times
When I was small there was a farm next door to the house where I spent every other weekend, alternating holidays and one terrifying summer. That farm had aggressive geese, pigs, a large barn where a mishap on a rope swing landed me with a large sliver in my ass, and horses. I remember riding with the kids over there, always bareback because the tack was too much for us to wrestle at 7 years old. One day my horse stopped and I lost my seating. Very slowly I slid around his belly until I was hanging beneath him and dropped the foot or so to the ground. I crawled out, I wasn’t hurt physically but I didn’t get on another horse for 16 years.
Failure was not embraced as a natural corse of things in any of the homes I was taught to think in. And so missing a step, or not being instantly expert at something, or missing a goal for one day meant I threw in the towel.
I would try most things once but if I didn’t immediately seem as though I had been doing them for years I never tried again. Life was seeming to short not to be a prodigy. I needed attention, I needed a lot of it. It was my first drug, it was the bump that made never knowing what was going to happen next survivable. I also needed out and I needed out fast.
The kind of alcoholic perfectionism this developed into would be fascinating if it wasn’t so incredibly common. I would make plans, goals, deadlines and hit the ground running but the day I dropped the “new me” ball, there went the whole damn kaboodle. If I couldn’t be perfect I wouldn’t be anything, attempts at building got fewer and fewer. I could sew a patch, I could drink a beer, for a while I could write a poem, I could fuck, I could smoke, I could make people cry.
Getting sober is the first thing I have ever done that required any effort and lasted any length of time. Slowly over the last several years I have noticed things that seem obvious but were news to me. Here are two examples:
1. When people practice something often they become better at it
2. When people practice something often they fall in love and the practice becomes more of a gift then the outcome
When I was recently sober living in a nest made of glass (not a metaphor) and watching the world open up around me with possibilities like dental hygiene and intimate relationships, I lived with a family. In that family was a middle daughter who went to a liberal arts elementary school up the road. Her teacher at this time gave her mother another one of the aforementioned obvious, simple, life changing (at least for me) gems. This genius of early education said to this genius of single parenting, “Consistency is 4 out of 5 times.”
Well the news spread fast among all of our people. Our people are mostly recovering perfectionists and nihilists and the like. If you take a run four days in a row and on the fifth day you stay in bed crying, you don’t have to throw away your sneakers. If you’re able to talk calmly about your deepest fears with your beloved for 2 conversations and on the third you become a sniffling infant, the adult in you doesn’t need to leave town…
Consistency is 4 out of 5 times.
I thought I couldn’t do very much of anything well or meaningful because I have never done anything perfectly. And I thought consistency was 100% flawless, seamless, all the time, forever.
Consistency os 4 out of 5 times.
I consistently do all kinds of things it turns out.
I consistently show up for my friends.
I consistently choose being of service over wallowing in my own despair.
I consistently write, I consistently exercise, I consistently call people back.
I consistently do things that scare me.
I consistently stay put and see what happens.
I consistently eat real meals.
I consistently thank those meals for coming.
I consistently listen rather than wait to talk.
I consistently believe that the means are as important as the ends.
I am consistently a person I can tolerate being around all the time….