December 6, 2016
I am always shocked at how many times I relearn the same lesson.
In this case, it is my tendency towards behavioral inertia. Behavioral inertia is the desire to maintain the same patterns tomorrow that you experience today. For example, I find the first few days of camp to be terribly challenging. As you know, I love camp, so be assured that my difficulties have nothing to do with resenting camp. Instead, I struggle with the change to my personal routine. Before camp, I can work out, relax by 6 or 7PM and cook a meal I share with the family. I can watch the occasional sporting event on TV or schedule a couple’s night out in Marble Falls. In the non-summer months, my work tasks are proactive in nature. In other words, I get to choose my tasks and projects. I work on them when I see fit.
Then camp rolls around and everything changes entirely.
The workouts in town become walks around camp. Winding down at 6 or 7 PM is long gone. In fact, we are not even done with dinner at 7. By 8 PM, I will be at torchlight. After that, we make sure the night duty team is OK and then I blog. Bedtime is usually between 10:30 and 12. Wake-up is 7 with flag-raising at 7:45. I will not outline the entire day, but I think you can see that my life becomes completely scheduled.
Camp is reactive rather than proactive. When we are at our best, we do not wake up with an agenda of “to-do” items because we have planned all schedules and events in advance. That frees us up to deal with the challenges of each day – the homesick camper, the inclement weather or the cabin arguments. Each day is long, different and delightful. For the 12 weeks of camp (10 with campers, 2 training the staff), we live this schedule, happily working 100 hours each week.
Then camp ends and we transition back to shorter weeks and a more flexible schedule. I struggle with this change as well. I find myself starting projects at 7PM rather than just relaxing. However, I find it hard to schedule myself and become proactive again.
I used to see the same pattern with my now-departed father. On any given day, he would rather stay in after sitting as a State Judge all day. He was reluctant to attend parties or go out for dinner. But once he did, he would become the lead raconteur at the gathering. My mom would often have to drag him away from the same party he was avoiding hours ago.
That is behavioral inertia. When you are working long hours, you tend to keep working long hours. When you are reactive, you are comfortable staying reactive. Being at home seems perfect until you get to the party.
I share this because our first 9 days in Bali got me out of “Adventure travel” mode and into “Enjoy the sunset and get a $6 massage” mode.
When Susie said it was time to leave the comfort of our hotel in Ubud and start exploring again, I found myself thinking about the reasons that we should change our plans.
You know about the first day of transition – 12 hours of travel in sub-par vehicles. My inertia was in full-force. It was like a little voice in my ear, “Why are you doing this? Do you really want to wake early twice to see volcanoes? I bet that they are serving high tea back at the Ubud hotel.”
That little voice was winning.
So when Nizer explained that we would be waking at 3:30 the next day, the little voice almost became a banshee, yelling enthusiastic protestations. I was not thrilled. I found myself thinking the following, “They may send too small a van – one that could take our luggage or all 6 of us, but not both.” In that case, we will drop the trip and stay here!
What finally shut the little voice was another voice that was coming back to the fore. This voice represents our family narrative – “we are adventurers”.
OK, the other thing that shut the little voice was an important fear – the look of disappointment Susie would inevitably give me if I tried to wimp out.
So despite my exhaustion, I dove back into adventure travel mode.
At the moment I thus resolved myself, Nizer adjusted came me one final test, “It might be cloudy tomorrow. Lets leave at 3:30 AM rather than 4:00 AM.
The next two blogs will describe our whirlwind in Java. Each merits its own article, so rather than create one long one, I would like to share them separately.