EP04 / Discipline, safety, and freedom with T Callahan
Creating an intentional relationship with alcohol, running, fatherhood, beginnings and ends, safety and freedom, love—and how to get the you out of your life.
In this episode I talk with T Callahan, a fellow writer who focuses on the intersection of people, planet and place. I invited him to have a conversation because of something that he wrote about discipline that really got me thinking—and in this episode we talk about that as well as our shared experience evolving and healing our relationship with alcohol, running, the question of fatherhood, beginnings and ends, safety and freedom, love, and how to get the you out of your life.
Notes for this episode
We met by way of Kyle Thiermann and the “one year no beer” group that he launched July 1 of this year (2022) and that we both joined soon thereafter. The value of being part of a community of shared intention.
Discipline and our orientation towards time. “Everything that has happened will happen and is happening.” The linearity of time is illusory—and also, the appearance of linearity of time is one of the gifts of human consciousness. How discipline “can get a bad rap if we’re inclined to apply it just to the future,” and the value in “recognizing discipline in hindsight,” and that “it might help to think of everything we call discipline as rising from a seed that eventually grows habit.” Perhaps we can recalibrate “discipline” as an accumulation of experience that results from day-to-day decisions, as opposed to a matter of willpower.
Recognizing evidence of having acted with intention over time can help us choose to move forward consciously in a way that feels disciplined.
“Discipline is only difficult until it becomes a habit.” — Colin Hudon
How our obsession with discipline is born of the conceptual—and illusory—split between mind and body. A recasting of discipline can shift from an idea of authoritarian dominance over ourselves to humility with ourselves. Discipline can be a way of taking yourself out of the process of building a habit.
Wanting life to have many chapters, and to be read like a book, not watched like a movie. It’s not possible to be everything all at once, and discipline is one of the tools that allows us to explore the chapters of life. It takes discipline to stop trying. Trying Not To Try, by Edward Slingerland.
There are beginnings and endings in a life of chapters. My recent piece The Last Time, about recognizing and appreciating endings. Discipline is required to begin and end chapters. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki — and the concept of “right effort.”
The connection between discipline and freedom. Freedom as levity—the lack of weight on your shoulders. Discipline is choosing to steer your ship to a new and different course—and then just to keep that heading.
Changing and healing my relationship with alcohol has not been an ongoing struggle with willpower—it was the result of a realization about how I wanted to live, and that drinking didn’t fit any longer with who I wanted to be. Once that sank in, I was able to steer my ship to a new heading.
We often think that “freedom” is the freedom to choose at any moment—but there’s a greater freedom in not having to choose.
Freedom and safety. We usually think of being safe from things and free to do things. Consider reframing this as safe to explore and express ourselves, and freedom from judgement, pressure, and constraint.
SAFE from & FREEDOM to → SAFE to & FREEDOM from
To recognize that you’re safe and then choose to take risk is the ultimate freedom. There’s a small, fragile, static safety and there’s a much larger, elastic, growing safety. We don’t get safe by doing safe things.
Parenthood. My piece on not becoming a father.