Most of my friends know that I am a rabid fan of what are now called “police procedurals.” Back when I was a kid, we just called them “cop shows” or “detective stories.” But, whatever you call them, books, movies or tv shows, if it was about cops and criminals, odds were I’d checked it out at least once. (FYI: I include lawyers/ court dramas in ‘police procedurals’.)
These days, my current fascination is with Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. I’ve read several of the books, listened to some more via Audible, and watched all four seasons currently available on Amazon Prime Video. One of the things I like so much about the tv show is how much of what’s in the books has made it on to the show. For example, one of the things that made it from the books is Harry’s sign on his cubicle wall that says “Get off your ass & go knock on some doors.” This is part of Harry’s no-nonsense, do-whatever-it-takes attitude when it comes to solving murders.
For those of you not familiar with the fictional character of Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, he is the archetypal “cop on a mission.” (The title theme on the show is pure Bosch: “Can’t Let Go” by Caught A Ghost.) For his good or ill, and sometimes it’s both, Harry Bosch doesn’t let go. He’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if means he takes the heat for getting in someone’s way. As far as fiction goes, it makes for some great drama, and while watching the tail end of season four, I spotted another sign on the wall of the precinct that I think was some great subliminal messaging: Harry is leaning against a bulletin board listening to one of his fellow detectives update the task force and right next to him is a sign saying “Winners are simply willing to do what losers won’t.” While that statement is an accurate description of his character, as a viewer, it made me ask myself that question: what am I willing to do?
Not too long ago, I posted a similar phrase I found online: We seldom do things to best of our ability; we do them to the best of our willingness. This one is along the same lines, but it also stresses this is the difference between winning and losing. If we knew the difference between losing 100 lbs and not losing 100 lbs was giving up bread, are we willing to make that choice? If you knew you could be so much healthier if you didn’t eat sugar, are you willing to stop eating sugar? While it’s easy to say, “if I knew for sure, then I’d do it!” But as long as it’s just ‘an educated guess,’ we’re not going to stop eating bread or sugar? This doesn’t mean that we have to be rigid in our eating or super-strict when it comes to counting calories, but when it comes to our goals, we need to keep our eyes focused on what we are trying to achieve. Sometimes that can mean being a little strict and sometimes that means doing what’s hard.
Let’s be honest when it comes to fictional Harry Bosch: if Connelly’s cop took the easy way out the way some of his fictional colleagues do, no one would be reading the books or watching the tv show! We regularly tune in to see Harry go through the wringer and come out the other side with the killer in tow! It’s the struggle that makes for great drama, but in real life, drama and struggling are not so much fun! It’s one thing to watch a tv character take it on the chin in a fistfight but it’s another thing to be sitting at a BBQ watching everyone washing down chips and hot dogs with beer and soda! It’s bad enough to see it and smell it but having to say no thanks when others offer you the same? Talk about struggling! Real life can be a real pain in the butt! No one wants to make things hard for ourselves, especially when it comes to the ‘simple pleasures’ that add so much to our lives, like hanging with friends at a BBQ! Not eating what they’re eating may not be the ‘pleasure’ you mean, but your not eating or drinking can draw unwanted attention and make others (and you!) feel self-conscious. What’s fun about that? Now ‘eating healthier’ just got in the way of one of your major relaxation activities!
This is where a lot of us will try to choose the lesser evil or the greater good and choose one hot dog and/ or one beer to be part of the crowd. I’m not going to judge, because only you know what’s in line with your goals and what’s not. I am going to say that some of us (raising my hand here) will use this as an escape hatch for making too many ‘accommodations.’ It’s like the old saying: the exception becomes the rule. If we are constantly making exceptions to have the one hot dog & beer at each BBQ, how long before it turns into two beers/ hot dogs, or even if it stays just one of each, there’s a difference between having one hot dog & beer once a month and having ‘one hot dog & beer’ once a week, because you get together with your friends on Friday nights and then at the BBQ later in the month and then there’s that work luncheon- meeting and you don’t want to draw attention to being different, so you have one slice of pizza and a soda. It’s easy to allow those little ‘accommodations’ to take over the majority of your eating! Making too many of these exceptions, even if they don’t take over the majority of your eating, they can counteract all the good eating choices you are still making! Does it matter if you had a salad and lean beef for lunch if you then have pretzels, beer and a burger with your buddies when you want to ‘be part of the crowd’? Been there- getting away from that!
Maybe that’s why the sign in Bosch jumped out at me. (I actually backed it up so I could write it down!) What am I willing to do that I have not been willing to do up to now? For starters, I can stop with all the exceptions! I can still be part of the crowd and not have the same food as the others, and if they are my friends, they will support my choices. If they’re my coworkers, how I eat isn’t their business (not my friends’ business either, but I care what they think!) If it means a few awkward moments, my friends will get over it and so will I. It also reminds me that sometimes doing what it takes to win can be hard. We all know weight loss is right up there with quitting smoking and if they were easy, we’d all be skinny nonsmokers! Sometimes, it means we have to make the hard choice and say no thanks to the cookies at the party or pass the bowl of chips without grabbing any. For me, this means keeping my hand out of the bread basket and leaving the licorice alone. It’s easy to make an excuse: it’s just one; it’s because of the party; it’s a vacation day; etc. We make it hard to let it go because of where we are putting our focus: we focus on what we want (the chips, the beer, the licorice) rather than on our goals of being leaner or healthier. We all know what we get if we keep doing what’s easy– all we have to do is look in the mirror! If we really want to win, then we need to get off our butts and go do something positive about it!