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Duration:03:29
Uploaded:2017-01-24
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100 Days: http://youtube.com/100days

In which John discusses motivational quotes, his abiding hatred for them, and how he has come around to them anyway. Also discussed, life's way of making you grapple seriously with much that seems easily dismissible.

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday! So over at youtube.com/100days I'm in the midst of a health and fitness journey with my best friend, Chris. Hold up, did I just say I'm on a journey? Hank, I'm becoming a self-help book.

Speaking of which, I have long been an avowed enemy of the motivational quote. You know like, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do." Or, "Nothing worth having comes easy." Or, "What's the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?" Which is actually a quote from my book An Abundance of Katherines, so my bad.

My first problem with motivational quotes is that, like, they aren't true. Like, tough people don't last; like all people, they die. And many things that are worth having come easily, like bananas, for instance, are available at almost any supermarket for, like, fifty cents. Also, hopefully the characters in An Abundance of Katherines spend that novel learning that an unremarkable life can be fulfilling and meaningful.

Then there's that old Walt Disney line, "If you can dream it, you can do it" which has appeared on more posters than Justin Bieber's face despite being manifestly untrue. Like, have you ever even had a dream? I once had a dream I was a tuatara. And if the mountain we must conquer exists within ourselves then why did you climb all those actual, physical mountains, Sir Edmund Hillary? You should have been at home, meditating, conquering the mountain within yourself. Also, just for the record, neither Walt Disney nor Sir Edmund Hillary ever said those quotes that are so often attributed to them.

The motivational quote plague is perhaps most notable at workout facilities, like the gym where Chris and I usually work out has this Steve Prefontaine quote about how giving less than your best is sacrificing your gift. And a boxing gym we visited had a hand-written sign reading "You don't have to get ready if you stay ready". I find these little aphorisms, not just annoying, but kind of insulting, and yet... Not to brag or anything, but I ran 9 miles yesterday, and around mile 4, I found myself thinking "You don't have to get ready, if you stay ready". God help me, Hank. I've become a fan of motivational quotes. I'm on a fricking journey.

I kind of feel like my whole adult life has been a series of circumstances that force me to reckon seriously with stuff I once easily dismissed. Like I remember living in New York in 2007 and railing against the sheeple buying houses in the Midwest. And now I'm a homeowner in Indianapolis and I quite like it. I used to think that bestselling books were, by definition, crap, and then I found myself quickly backtracking when I unexpectedly became the author of one. I've ridiculed parents for focusing on their kids instead of the world's kids, only to become a parent and understand that impulse, and I've said that popular music was dead only to really like Beyoncé's album, Lemonade.

But even now I still haven't learned that when I want to roll my eyes, I should probably be alive to the possibility that the object of my disdain is more complex than I'm imagining. And so now, yes, I've become a person who revels in clichéd, usually miss-attributed quotes in order to motivate me toward physical fitness. This is a surprise on several levels, not least because I have long dismissed physical fitness as a waste of energy, when all that really matters about humans is their minds. But these past few weeks have already taught me that there is no hard line between the body and the brain, that running can be good for my writing, and writing good for my running. I kind of thought I'd have to abandon, like, my real work for 100 Days while I focused on my physical health, but, instead, I'm finding myself enjoying writing more than I have in years. And even though I'm spending more time working out, weirdly, I find that I have more time for writing, too. These days, I'm at the keyboard pretty much every day. Because, you know, you don't have to get ready, if you stay ready. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.

End screen. Four things. I will be at VidCon Europe in Amsterdam in April with many other YouTubers. Hope to see you there. Check out 100 Days. I also wanted to let you know that these 10th anniversary Vlogbrothers woodcuts are available for a couple more weeks at dftba.com, and, lastly, Rosianna's self-care bunny wants you to know that you are enough.