A Walk in the Woods

8 May 2013 · 7 comments

My work ethic has improved dramatically since I began taking ADD meds two weeks ago. Every day, I’m accomplishing before noon than I had been getting done in a week.

This morning, for instance, I got up at 6:30. I took the Vyvanse, then showered, shaved, and ate a good breakfast. Immediately, I got to work. I didn’t play on Facebook. I didn’t waste time reading about the Portland Timbers. I didn’t get sidetracked sorting comics. Instead, I wrote.

I spent the first part of the morning writing about money. I also wrote a couple of small pieces to publish here later. Mid-morning, I had a Skype conference with my friends, Luke and Jim. (We’ve decided to form a sort of braintrust to help each other further our professional goals. Watch out, world!) Finally, I spent a couple of hours editing the program for this year’s World Domination Summit.

By the time I’d come to a stopping point, it was past noon, which meant I’d missed my regular Crossfit class. I opted to go for a run instead. And while I was at it, I decided I’d swing by the hardware store to pick up a few small things.

The Road Less Traveled

I’m fortunate to live right next to the Springwater Trail [PDF], a multi-use path that runs more than twenty miles from downtown Portland to the suburbs. Quick access to this paved pathway was actually a huge selling point when I was considering this location. Living here, there are no excuses preventing me from biking or running. (And I don’t make any; I use the trail a lot.)

Today, I warmed up with a few pushups and lunges, then began an easy run toward downtown Portland. I passed an old couple out for a stroll. Several bikers dinged their bells as they zipped by me. I jogged past the amusement park, and I watched as a guy unhitched his trailer at the yacht club. When I reached Oaks Bottom, I cut over toward the wildlife refuge.

At this point, I ought to have continued up the bluff and then turned back toward the hardware store. But something made me take a different route. When I came to the trail at the bottom of the bluff, I followed it instead of taking my planned path. I’m glad I did.

The gravel trail wound through the trees, following the steep hillside. All around, the wildflowers were lush and green. Some were even beginning to bloom. (June is really wildflower season in this neck of the woods.) The birds in the branches tweeted and chirped, and on a couple of occasions, I startled large crows, which squawked and lofted away.

I slowed to a walk so I could take it all in.

I enjoyed glimpses of the wetlands, where I spied several herons standing in the water. I passed the mausoleum and walked into the open fields beyond. At the end of the trail, I picked a wild rose (my favorite flower!) to give to Kim. The trail turned into a gravel road which led me to Sellwood Park, and, eventually, to home.

The Happiness of Happenstance

Last weekend, I re-read one of my favorite books, Luck is No Accident [my review]. Paraphrased, the book’s central thesis is:

Unplanned events — chance occurrences — more often determine your quality of life than all the careful planning you do. These “happenstances” lead in unexpected directions, many of which can be very positive.

At the same time, I’ve been listening to the audio version of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan (about which I’m sure to share more in the near future). Taleb explores “the impact of the highly improbable”. He argues that the truly important things in life are essentially unpredictable.

I set out this afternoon with two objectives: get some exercise and run some errands. I only accomplished one of these things. I guess you could argue that my getting sidetracked is only indicative of my ADD. I like to think that it shows I’m open to unplanned events, that I allow some unpredictability in my life.

I may not have made it to the hardware store today, but I feel like I gained some things that are more important.

  • Now I know where the trail through the wildlife refuge is, and I know the sorts of plants and animals I can see while I’m on it.
  • I’m fairly certain that the route I took today is about five kilometers, which is a good training distance for running.
  • I found some spots to picnic with Kim.
  • I spent some time in a reflective, meditative state, immersed in the nature around me.

I’ll run my errands at the hardware store tomorrow. Right now, it’s time to get back to work. I’m doing so with a smile on my face.

1 Jeff Tse May 8, 2013 at 17:23

Awesome!
Have you noticed any side effects from the medication?
I’m seriously considering seeing a doctor to see if I have ADD and taking meds as well, I have so many of the same symptoms.

It’s good to see it’s working out for you man!

2 Craig Anthony May 9, 2013 at 10:53

J.D.,

Your comment about picking the wild rose reminded me to order flowers for Mother’s Day! Thank you!

3 K G May 9, 2013 at 18:43

JD,

While I was diagnosed with ADD at a young age, I have been on several types of medication over the years. When I was in K through 8 I took Ritalin, the only option at the time, and while it helped I felt like a zombie while on it. I went off of medication for high school and college by choice, and while I am sure my grades could have been a bit higher during those years, I don’t regret my decision because I was able to learn a lot about myself that I may not have otherwise. A few months after starting my first full time job it became apparent to me that I needed to go back on medication in order to be able to learn coping skills that would help me progress in my job responsibilities and interact with my coworkers. In my adult working life I have been on Concerta, and then Stratera for periods of time. I found that I had the lowest number of side affects on Stratera and have found that the non-stimulant medication was the best one for me.

4 Leanne Regalla May 11, 2013 at 14:16

Hi J.D.,

Love this take on happenstance and I totally agree. I’m a writer and a musician (by default an entrepreneur) and this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.

I have an MBA, and that training emphasized planning, more planning, checking in with your plan, and then adjusting your plan. But after only a year or two of owning a music teaching studio, I learned that this approach didn’t really work. For years I thought I was just incompetent. But the personal and business growth I experienced by staying open to unexpected opportunities and being willing to change course was undeniable.

Ten years later I am really happy about where I am – blogger, songwriter, and studio owner – and I know I would never have gotten here if I didn’t just trust in the unknown.

Plus I love finding new trails on my dog walks. ;) Thanks for this.

5 Fred Daily May 16, 2013 at 11:07

JD

Have you read John Fowles “The French Lieutenant’s Woman?” ( Not the movie which missed the whole point). It was the “aha” moment of my life back in the 70s when I first came across it. And, it still resonates to this day about the importance of happenstance in our life. In summary, the book has two alternate but quite different endings–depending on whether the protagonist made or missed a stagecoach ride. A seemingly trivial event which was life-changing. Purely happenstance–like my meeting my wife–but that’s another story.

6 AnnW May 18, 2013 at 16:05

For an ADDer to get to half the list is a big accomplishment. I’m retired, so I don’t really have to do anything, but it’s hard to keep moving. A list helps, because it reminds you of what needs to be done. Keep exercising, it should help. Ann

7 Virginia May 21, 2013 at 16:36

What a nice day! Thank you for sharing.

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