Remember Little Debbies?
Whether it was the Oatmeal Cream Pie or the Swiss Cake Roll, for my money they were the closest thing to leveling up a kid could achieve before the onslaught of video games. My mom used to occasionally pack them in my lunch when I was young and it was often the centerpiece of a typically mundane school day. It was a blissful treat best enjoyed as a lunch finale that was wedged between the off-key singing of “Senor Don Gato” in music class in 4th period and the learning of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in the 6th.
But for some of us blossoming hustlers in the days before blockchain, bit coin, or Venmo, we thrived and trafficked in a 6th grade black-market alternative currency; that of the Little Debbie variety. We used these portable snack cakes to get favors – the kind of favors that 11-year old kids used to get ahead and make their mark in their small world.
Whether it be the key to acquiring free rein in skipping line on pizza day, the perfect payment for stuffing the ballot box for the captainship of the kickball team, or even the ideal alternative financial vehicle for making some extra quarters selling them to the poor bastards whose Moms only packed them apples or little red boxes of raisins, these favors made doing your time in middle school tolerable…and even a little profitable.
Now I’m sure many brilliant food scientists and nutritionists in the intervening years since then have probably proven that Little Debbies are not the most nutrient-rich food a responsible parent can give their growing child.
But thank God my Mom blew caution to the Richard Simmons Sweating to the Oldies winds of those times and loved me enough to lovingly tuck a Little Debbie into my metal Mr. T and A-Team lunch box with what I’m sure is now the 2018 helicopter-parent equivalent of providing your child with a pack of Newport Menthols.
Gosh, I love that woman.
But come on, let’s get real…just name a kid who would prefer browning apple slices to the chocolate sex appeal of a compact snack cake enclosed in such a convenient high tensile strength package?
No kid I’d want to hang around with at 11 years old, that’s for sure.
Now it’s probably a fact that part of the disdain of health conscious folks everywhere for these treats is that they have a knack of maintaining their freshness and taste well past logic would dictate. (Note to self: I really do need to define “fresh”).
But damn it, Jim, what is the secret to their timeless utility?!
And is that level of near-immortality available in other tools in our lives?
You’d be correct in guessing, “Yes.” (Did you really think I’d take all this real estate to simply write about a lunch dessert? Seinfeld I am most definitively not.)
One of my mentors emphasized a long time ago that journaling is a habit that pays you both in the present time and also pays you in the future. I find that reading some of my journal entries from years past is a lot like finding a hidden carton of Little Debbies buried somewhere in the vastness of a kitchen pantry. Behind the pinto beans and the cream of mushroom soup this powerful and complex flavored treat is revealed just when needed. It was right there in plain sight ready to be rediscovered and enjoyed all over again.
I find that the observations, experiences, and lessons learned and recorded back when written have an extended and seemingly timeless shelf-life like that of our faithful and diminutive Deborah. Maybe they make more sense now in hindsight because I finally caught up to the life experiences and lessons that God/fate/karma was trying to teach me but I was too stubborn or prideful to see it at the time.
So yes, I guess some of the old journal entries pack a bit more nutritional value over the years than when they were initially “created” fresh.
(Do you think it’s the same with a Little Debbie?)
So here is the nugget that prompted me to share from 3 years ago which I stumbled upon this morning. I find that it is as timeless now as it was then:
Entry – August 19, 2015: I heard a quick and powerful story from the great entrepreneur and investor, James Altucher, yesterday. It’s something I feel I need to record and share with my “future self” as well as the entire team since we all face immense and frequent challenges in our lives.
Remember, Knowledge is “silver” and Wisdom is “gold.” Here is some pure 24 carat gold as we endeavor to persevere in all that we hold up and all that we hold dear:
Bruce Lee wanted one of his students to die.
Then he explained why.
And he’s right. I’ve seen this happen to people in my own life.
My best friend growing up died from it. He just gave up. He stopped.
Every day you can decide: 1% up. Or 1% down. You never notice it from day to day because it’s such a small difference.
Pick one area of your life you love. And improve it 1%.
It’s the most important thing you will do today.
Now on to the story: It’s an anecdote written by someone who was personally trained by Bruce Lee:
“‘Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a-half minutes per mile!].
So this morning he said to me “Today we’re going to go five.”
I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.”
He said, “When we get to three miles, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.”
I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.”
So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out.
I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” — and we’re still running — “if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.”
He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles.
Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it.
I said, “Bruce, why did you say that?”
”He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”
There. Are. No. Limits.
So thanks Bruce and Deb (and mom!) for teaching me again. I promise I’ll remember the wisdom this time.
See you at the top!