I am a jumbled mess veiled beneath an exterior of big teeth and pleasant speech. I fear I am on the verge of serious physical detriment due to lack of rest and erratic sleep patterns, which are causing some disturbing things to happen to me. My time sleeping for the year of 2009 is about 6 hours per night--sometimes less. The body was not meant to live on caffeine alone. Worse, these things are causing me to procrastinate, to get behind on assignments, and, ultimately, to perpetuate a vicious cycle that I must end somehow. My cognitive abilities have declined to the point that I forget ends of sentences as I start to speak them, can't remember simple things throughout my day, and can barely comprehend even basic reading material. All of these problems have built a weight of anxiety that hovers perilously over my shoulders at every moment, threatening to topple me into oblivion. Hyperbole aside, I really should get things in order. My eyesight, which has also declined dramatically, can't take much more or I'll surely go blind.
I realized something important last night: excellence comes not through hopes or ambitions, forgiveness for trespasses or fixing problems, but through the honest act of plodding along, of being proactive and taking charge-- in essence, it is bred of doing. During my lifetime, I have had the incredible opportunity to hear many great men and women speak about what it took to get them where they are, and their statement almost never had to do with being the biggest or the best or the brightest, but being the most willing and resilient. I am reminded of when I had the privilege to hear Tony Blair speak at a leadership conference, and he was asked what was the most important thing for a leader to have-- that quality that got him to the top of British politics (and a crucial leader in the free world). His response: just keep trucking (though he said it much more eloquently than that.) Mr. Blair advised everyone to identify and have what he called an "irreducible core," and to retain it at all costs. This "core" is comprised of all the things most crucial to who you are, and is what will allow you persevere through difficult times. I have neglected to maintain my own "irreducible core," and have let it slip away as the much more primal needs for sleep and rest have superseded my desires for anything more.
So, in a public forum, I am declaring a fresh start. First on the agenda: get more sleep. Because how can I do if I don't have the energy to?