How Billy Crystal Changed (Or Didn't Change) My Life

For some reason, I often have unwritten, unnecessary, and somewhat-neurotic “rules” regarding when/if/how I will do something. 

For example: 

I won’t even try doing anything productive in the AM until after I’ve had coffee. Oh, and the coffee has to be good, which means I must grind the beans and brew it just-so. 

I only make to-do lists in one particular notebook. Post-its and legal pads are for chumps. 

Volumes must be set at even numbers. Just… because. 

And I will not practice yoga in front of people. This rule applies to yoga classes and even to my wife. It’s partly because some moves put me in compromising positions. But it also does not really feel like yoga unless I’m totally alone with my mat and my thoughts. Because of this rule, if someone comes in the room and starts talking to me, my session is paused (or over.) 

The other night, I watched an episode of The Comedians, during which Billy Crystal’s wife practiced yoga in front of him and seemed perfectly calm answering his questions. 

And just like that, I realized how foolish my rules are. I could do something important before brewing my coffee. It makes no difference where my to-do list is written. Odd-numbered volumes—from what others tell me—work just fine. And practicing a few yoga moves while answering my wife’s questions is not ideal, but it’s better than just sitting there not exercising. 

This article would be stronger if I could conclude by saying I am a changed man. However, since that night, I have yet to break any of my foolish rules. But I’m aware of them, even writing about them. Does that count?


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