My son Charlie is a hero to me. While most people would not consider their eldest son, now age 20, to be a hero; he is a hero in the classic sense of the word. Charlie lived through my heavy years with me, and became a hero to me.
You see, when I’d arrive home after the long drive home from the office, Charlie would take my socks and shoes off. I couldn’t do it at the time, because my knees were in bad shape from lifting the 550 to 600 pounds all day. But, Charlie was there to remove the socks and shoes. Now, you might think that as a parent, that was a cruel task to give Charlie. But, Charlie was happy to see me back in those days, and would gladly remove my socks and shoes. But, by far, that was not the most cruel task that I gave Charlie.
If you were to ask Charlie today, what the worst task I assigned him was, he would say “the well”. You see, Charlie remembers “the well”, very well, and not in a good way.
We live in the country, and don’t have a lot of money. And, about 5 years ago, the pump in “the well” went bad. And, we needed water. And, we needed to replace the pump in our well. And, well, we needed Charlie.
Even in his formative years, Charlie was a very obedient boy, and would usually do what he was asked without question. But, when we talked about “the well”, and replacing the well pump, even Charlie started to ask questions. Charlie wanted more data. Charlie understood the importance of the “why” when it came to data collection; even if he didn’t put it in those terms at the time.
You see. Our well is about 50 feet deep, and you can see the water at the bottom of “the well”. Charlie was aware of this. “The well” is also about 4 feet in diameter. And, there is no ladder down the side of “the well”.
The other problem is that the pump is suspended from a hose with an elbow about 15 feet down the side of the well. So, to bring the pump up, someone has to go down in “the well”, disconnect the hose clamp on the hose, so that the well pump can be pulled to the top of “the well”.
So, Charlie went into data gathering mode. He was a little nervous, in spite of my assurances of safety, because he could see down in “the well”. He could see the problem. For some strange reason, he didn’t think that he would be safe going down in “the well”. My goal or objective was to get “the well” working again. Charlie had a different goal. For some reason, he just wanted to survive. He was collecting data, that he hoped, would lead to his survival. I just wanted “the well” to function again.
Charlie weighed about 120 pounds at the time. No visible means of support lowering him down in “the well”. He got a little nervous. I backed my car up to the well, and backed my wife’s mini van up to the well. We wanted to lower the risk of lowering our eldest son into the well. I owned two tow straps for the vehicles, as they needed some towing from time to time. Not the best vehicles. One had over 300,000 miles on it and the other one looked like it. Both tow straps were rated to hold 3500 pounds. The bumper on the mini van looked like it would fall off at any time. This was all part of the data Charlie gathered.
One tow strap was secured to the extension ladder and lowered down one side of the well. The other end of the tow strap was strapped to my car. The other tow strap went around Charlie’s waist, and he climbed down into “the well”. He made a couple of trips down the side of “the well”, and we had the pump replaced and working in a couple of hours. Charlie did his job well, and lived to tell the tale of “the well”.
We all gather data for different reasons, in our journey to health, but it is important to know the “why” for our collection of data. I have a tendency to over collect data, and err on the side of caution. That’s because I like data, and I like to go back and look at it. But, even with my data obsession, I ignored some data that I wish I had collected over the early years. Like many people, I was focused on data that others said I needed to collect, in order to get better health. Instead of focusing on the data that I wanted to collect.
If I could rewrite history, I would have taken more pictures and videos of my “heavier” times. I’m a visual learner and that history would have been very valuable to me. Instead, like most people, I collected numbers. I collected numbers like weight (in pounds), clothing sizes (waist size, neck size and shirt size), calories and other things that people said were important. While these numbers tell a story, and allowed me to communicate with other people, they were meaningless to me personally. I didn’t care that I wore 8x shirts, had a 68 inch waist, and couldn’t weigh on a scale. I just knew I couldn’t see my feet when I stood. I couldn’t reach my shoes and change my socks. I knew I wasn’t healthy. Simple data to measure. If I could reach down, and put on my socks and shoes, I was getting more healthy. If, at the end of the day; I could reach down and take off my socks and shoes, then I was getting more healthy. Other people would ask me how much I weighed, and I had no idea. The data wasn’t important to me.
We live an era of lots of data. The costs associated with photos and videos are next to nothing now. The costs to store numbers are meaningless. The advent of low cost devices to collect numbers like blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood ketones make it easy for us to collect all the numbers. It’s even inexpensive to weigh. But, if you don’t remember why you are collecting all these numbers, you can get discouraged. You can be discouraged when you plateau on your goal to weight loss. You can get frustrated when you aren’t lifting quite as much weight as you’d like when you are lifting your weights. Like me, you might get frustrated when you don’t have time to ride your bicycle or walk that two miles per day. Don’t even get me started on the 10,000 steps per day thing.
So, the point of this long story, is to be sure you know your “why”. Be sure to focus on why you are collecting data, and collect the data that gets you to your “why”. Focus on the “why”. Take the time each day and remember the “why”, and this will help you keep things in perspective, when the numbers aren’t quite what you’d like them to be. Then remember that you are a hero.
I, for one, want to be more like Charlie.
After all, we all need to be heroes. We need more living heroes. Go be a hero to people in your life.