Don’t Half-Ass It

In his book, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey recalls the time he told father that he was going to become an actor. His father’s reply, “Don’t half-ass it,” surprised him. McConaughey took it as an affirmation.

“A job’s not worth doing if it isn’t done well,” is a statement credited to Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield in the 17th century. This declaration and the response of McConaughey’s Dad contain elements of the same decree to follow through when making a personal commitment.

Being in my rig is a lesson in not half-assing it. If I half-ass my water supply, the toilet doesn’t flush. If I’m not plugged in and I half-ass my attention to battery charge, the electronics that control the refrigerator don’t work. If I half-ass my attention to tree branches, my exterior gets scratched. If I half-ass my awareness of my diesel exhaust fluid level, the rig won’t progress any faster then 5 miles per hour. I’ll not fail to attend carefully to these jobs.

Not half-assing it requires more than intending to engage in a task or accepting a responsibility. It means committing to its fulfillment. I’ll use friendship as an example. Having good friends and being a good friend are at the top of my priorities. My friendships are a matter of choice, not utility. My relationships give me perspective that is different from what I gain from time alone. The people with whom I surround myself shape my life. My friends can double my fun. The satisfaction and love that I derive from meaningful friendship outweighs what I put in. During this first month on the road I’ve spent time with 9 different friends. I don’t know where the credit for the following statement rests but I love what it asserts… “The non-goal oriented time we spend messing around, doing nothing in particular, and simply being together with friends has about as much impact on health as quitting smoking cigarettes.” I’ll not half-ass my friendships.

I’ll also not half-ass what I need to do to feel good. I’m no good to anyone else if I fail in the self-care department. Self-care leads me to consume mindfully, to speak carefully, to lead an active life, and to be contemplative. Writing about my experiences is an act of self-care. It gives me a record of my journey. Maybe later I’ll reread what I wrote and it’ll serve me with wisdom. The extent to which my blog influences others to care for themselves better is out of my hands, but I don’t think that it hurts. I doubt that Matthew McConaughey’s father could have imagined that someone like me, upon learning about what he said to his son, could have been so inspired. It’s a calling to keep writing because every story shared represents a chance to say something that might have meaning for another.

Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Half-Ass It

  1. Outstanding! By focusing on “doing things well” with full attention , mindfulness, and care helps produce what this blog brought to mind: Quality. This extends to regular maintenance of our possessions, products we buy and consume, how we spend our time, our work, and our relationships. Thank you for not being a half-assed friend


  2. Agree entirely with your perfectly stated commitment to friendships and enjoying them. Wonderful description, James – thank you. What is harder for me is be 100% all over my other endeavors


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