I was told my first act should have about five minutes of material. So I started thinking about how to fill five minutes… Five big ones…One, Two, Three, Four, Five…Yep not two or three, or even four minutes…but the big five…Five-o…five-a-rina…FIVE whole minutes…F…I…V…E…five.
Like somehow, just because it was time focused, it immediately became a high school report and my 18 year old brain went into auto-pilot to fill the time…you know it’s funny, I’m 42 but my inner voice still seems to think I’m around 18…and in shape…
In fact, reality meeting my inner voice tends to be the cause of much misery in my life these days.
I used to swim in high school and recently I’ve been thinking it’s about time I get this old belly a bit under control…my inner voice says to me, it says “Kevin, swimming is a great workout. You’re a swimmer. Let’s get in the pool and work off those extra pounds. You’ll be back in shape in no time.”.
So I go and get myself a bathing suit…and the fact that they don’t really sell them in my size in normal stores, this does not trigger a red flag in me for some reason…so anyway, I get the suit, the googles, the swim shirt (because there was no way I was walking out of that locker room once I saw myself in just that suit)…
And I find a local program called “masters swim”…apparently, that’s the nice, athletic, label they give old people now…“masters”.
Anyway - it’s a program with a set time and they provide a coach and everything…so day one, I come out of the locker room in my gear, all ready to go…and I’m feeling pretty good, I’m chatting up the other swimmers and cracking a few jokes with the coach…just having a grand old time…
And then it’s time to start.
The coach, being 100% serious, says “OK. Let’s warm up with something simple today. Everyone give me a 500 freestyle as a warmup.”
My inner voice says, “No problem.”.
I dive into the pool and start stroking away. Now for those of you that don’t know, a 500 is about 20 lengths in your average YMCA pool…I was in an ‘olympic’ pool which is about twice the size of your average YMCA pool…because apparently, if I’m going to do something stupid…I’m going to do it big.
So anyway, I’m in the water and I’m swimming away and actually feeling pretty good about myself…my inner voice is saying “just like riding a bike”…“you got this”
…for about the first ½ a lap.
About half way down that first length…my 42 year old body had a reality check.
It wanted air…it wanted me to breath…and it was thinking about letting my heart explode any second…and suddenly my inner voice changed from the 18 year old cocky Kevin into the 42 year old panicked Kevin…“I’m gonna die. That’s it. I’m going to drown right here in the middle of this first length.”…and I can’t even fake an injury or anything at this point, because I’m in the middle of the pool.
Meanwhile, I glance over to some of the other swimmers in the other lanes…mind you, these are fellow masters…some so old that they are probably labeled grand-masters even…and they are LAPPING me already!
Luckily my survival mode kicks in and I remember that I know how to do other strokes…strokes that let me breath…at least a little bit…so I casually switch into one of those…already working out my story for the coach on how I just really wanted to work these other muscles a bit – yeah the letting me breath muscles – and somehow I work my way all the way to the end of the first length.
I get to the wall, and suddenly my 18 year old inner voice shows back up and says “act like that was nothing.” but my body is saying “DEAR GOD. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!?”…and the coach starts yelling “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!”…and so for some reason, I let go of the wall and start this whole horror show over again.
…and I do it for whole 500…the whole time my body is arguing with my inner voice (and thinking about ways it can go back in time and kick that guys ass)…but some how, some way…I get through it.
Of course everyone else has finished the warmup about 30 minutes ago…but at this point, I was too exhausted to be ashamed or embarrassed about it…I’m just happy to be clinging to that wall for dear life and BREATHING!
Then the coach comes over to me…and she says, “OK. Now that the warmup is done, let’s get you started on something easy. For this next set…”
…and I’m like, “Next set? NEXT SET? Are you crazy?”.
With the *very* last bit of my energy, I pulled myself up out of the pool and…no kidding…weak leg, wobbled, back to the locker room.
But the good news is that I no longer have the desire to get back in shape…
…so anyway - five minutes - I guess because of that start I started thinking about it it terms of an essay…which I know, from being *such* a great student of course, should have a start, middle, and an end…so start, check. middle…needs work, I’ll work that in later…but trust me it will be killer…and then end…what to do about the end?
Well I also remember learning that it’s good to leave the crowd wanting…and so then it hit me. I could end my five minutes with something really GREAT. Something that should make everyone want at least a little bit more from me…and that something is…
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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