One of the most important skills in a military campaign is knowing how to scavenge. While the term is not considered much of a compliment in a middle class culture, under the pressure of the battlefield with an inadequate supply line, being able to see value in all available items is an art form.
So starting with the assumption that both now and in the future we have fewer resources than we wish, or at least not the kind of resources we wish we had, let’s try to match up the three lists of resources you made, with the strategy for the inner circle.
I will use my own life as an illustration, knowing full well that you are in a different situation. I am not showing you WHAT to do. My objective is to teach you how to recognize and use those small resources you already have, instead of being paralyzed while waiting for the resources you wish you had.
Here is my reasoning about my health project. It is of modest value, so I do not want to spend any valuable resources here. Furthermore, I know that I hate exercise, so whatever I plan to do for my health has to take into account the reality of a formidable firewall in my mind against exercise. The simple fact is that the only way I will ever have six-pack abs is via a really talented, highly deceptive, Photoshop artist.
So what do I have at my disposal that could help me position my body better, when I hate exercise?
-Well, I have cycled through a bazillion alternative health care practitioners over the years. If snake oil were combustible, I would have the cure for our nation’s energy crisis. After 40 years of experimenting, I have actually found one person who does solid diagnosis and treats causes, instead of symptoms.
I worked with her over the course of a couple of years to equip my body to take care of itself. I am down from 30 pills a day to exactly zero and my body is doing what bodies are supposed to do.
I took my ability to be disciplined about taking pills, some modest discretionary funds through my HSA account (back when HSA still covered OTC stuff) and my acquaintance with a good practitioner. I threw in some time over a couple years and got good results.
-I also find it quite easy to do partial fasts. I guess this is God’s compensation for my not being able to make myself exercise much.
I have experimented with a variety of different things over the years and found a liquid diet that pulls the excess weight off me slowly enough to be effective long-term. I can’t do that when I am traveling, but I had a three-month block of time in the office, so that was a resource I could leverage here. I did, and am now 25 pounds lighter than at the end of last year’s peregrinations. It feels great.
-For upper body strength, I decided on chin ups. We have steel racks in the warehouse and a Home Depot near by, so I got a 10′ piece of 1″ green gas line and set up a bar across the aisle, so I could do chin ups whenever I head to the back for UPS or other things.
Did I mention I HATE exercise? I found that if I do exercise in little bitty portions, I can more or less tolerate it. So I set a goal of adding one chin up a month. To do that, I need to do a set two or three times a day as I go past, and by doing it on the run, instead of setting a formal time to do it, I seem to not trigger as much pushback from my anti-exercise software.
On the one hand, that is pretty trivial. I know that. But on the other hand, 24 months from now, I might be doing 24 chin ups in a set, which is 23 more than some of you can do. It takes a lot of upper body muscles to do that one exercise, so I figure it will do me some good.
And at the end of the day, if I can leverage ten bucks, a few seconds each day, and manage to sneak by the no-physical-pain software, it is a pretty good job of scavenging.
-For strengthening my core, I cribbed a short bunch of exercises from a friend who paid a high price to have a super smart professional teach them. What my friends know and are willing to tell me for free is part of my resource base as a scavenger.
I bought a floor mat and a big ball, and I try to allocate 12 minutes, three times a week at the end of the day, to do the simple, painful exercises. You have no idea the amazing creativity my anti-exercise software is capable of in its attempt to justify not doing them. I am truly brilliant at 3:58 in the afternoon. Too bad I can’t bottle it for a more worthwhile cause.
But, even if I only get there twice a week, in a couple of years, it will amount to something more than what I have now.
-That still leaves me with a gaping hole in terms of cardio work. I know I need to get my heart rate up. Did I mention I have some formidable anti-exercise software? And that there is no known deliverance technique for anti-exercise software?
Fortunately, I am just a tiny bit more creative on the good side than my bad software is. So here is my strategy.
I hate jogging in any form. There is something about the pounding of running that just grates on me. I have a pool at the complex and have tried swimming regularly, but after growing up swimming in the Amazon, swimming in a pool with walls all around me plays right into my anti-exercise software. Or at least that is the excuse that I am giving for not swimming regularly.
The idea of logging time on a treadmill or stationary bicycle is revolting. Investing energy going nowhere is a concept that gets ejected by sundry other virus filters in my brain long before the infamous anti-exercise software gets a chance to whack at it.
But, I don’t do powerless with much grace, so I decline to let the aforementioned evil software win.
I recently came up with a new idea. I am starting to learn how to skate. I purchased some basic inline skates and think that the more gentle motion of skating might possibly avoid triggering the anti-jogging alarm.
I love walking to work around 5:00 in the morning while it is cool and quiet. Possibly I could skate the three miles to work once a week or so and get that heart pumping the way the physio guys say I need to.
My anti-exercise software has already pointed out that cracking my noggin will not significantly enhance my ability to serve the King, and breaking a wrist could impair my literary output.
This I know.
I am also a passionate believer in neuroplasticity. I believe that I can grow a sizeable number of new neurological pathways that will make it possible for me to engage in this healthy endeavor in such a way as to efficaciously bypass the curses being spoken over me by my anti-exercise software for which there is no deliverance OR redemption.
My plan is to grow the requisite neurological pathways slowly — at work. I shall wear the skates an hour a day for a month (or six, if that is what it takes to rewire this antiquated brain). First I will wobble around the carpeted office, then when I feel braver, I will expand to the warehouse.
When I can do all the shipping on inline skates and carry a 39 pound box for South Africa up to the front, I figure I will be ready to graduate to the real world.
OK. Enough already with the body. It is the least significant of the three. I just wanted you to see that there are a lot of options available to everyone. I am spending scraps of time here and there to make progress. I am utterly unwilling to make the major investment of emotional effort it would take to white knuckle my way through a professional gym workout.
I do need to do better with my body than I was doing a few years ago. But the value is modest, so my investment of scarce resources (time and emotional energy) needs to be modest. I am investing creativity to find a way to do something beneficial with scraps. In other words, I am making scavenging an art form.
As I looked at the issue of upgrading my portable cognitive capacity, my conclusion was that my strength was in reasoning. I can take a situation and disassemble it, find the root cause, and then reason back out again to a new application.
My weakness was in the extreme unevenness of my database. I know a lot about some things and little about quite a number of issues that matter in this world. I am much better in the humanities than the sciences. So, I need more data. I can reason more largely, if I have more info to chew on.
Going back to school is out of the question. The cost in terms of time and money to sit in a class is simply not worth it for this project. I don’t need the legitimacy of a degree and I am not trying to master the nuances of a skill set. (Either of those objectives could make school worthwhile). I simply want a big picture view of some other disciplines.
I debated for a while using my resource of friends in sundry technical circles to see if I could come up with a set of blogs, or newsletters I could monitor that would educate me on some of the sectors of society where I am hugely deficient.
I finally decided that this would be too expensive. I just don’t want to allocate scarce reading time for this level of data acquisition. It is not important enough to me. The time for reading needs to be spent on something much more valuable.
Here God helped me out. I have had my eye on a company that offers college level course work on audio CDs. The problem is that they are pricey as befits the really high quality of their material.
And I am cheap.
But apparently the recession is squeezing them, because they sent me their lovely catalog with everything at 70% off for a few days, putting it within reach of Mister Cheap himself! I ordered a few courses which are now gracing my desk and they will occupy me for a while.
That brings me to time. My morning and evening drive time are already mortgaged for high value activities. I am not going to give any prime time to this project. But there are the stray errands to the store or dry cleaners or post office.
I found out to my surprise that I actually spend more time than I thought in stray errands, so I scavenged that time, and allocated it for the expansion of my soul’s world view.
I have a CD album from the course on the global economy in the car. So far I am learning quite a bit about macro economics as well as coming up with a treasure trove of illustrations of how the redemptive gifts and the curses and the seven heads of Leviathan work. on a national level.
Those poor pitiful eggheads have such an impossible task trying to explain macro economic realities using their pathetically small set of tools.
Clearly, my strategy is working. Using a few bucks and some scraps of drive time, I am gaining some useful data for my reasoning engine to grind on.
And this blog is getting longer than it needs to be, so I will break here, and explore my use of resources for preparing my spirit in the next post.
Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk
From home (as you can tell from the unusual length)