Kids are terrible at drawing, but most of us don’t get much better.
For over 65,000 years, Humans have painted the walls of our caves with plant blood, scratching in the stories of the animals nearby; where the deer drink; where the big cats lurk.
And for 63,350 of them, nobody gave a damn about perspective.
After all, it’s not like you get long to practice art when you’re halfway between starving to death and eaten alive.
Then one day about 600 years ago, some bloke finally figured out how to properly draw perspective, and before you could say “vanishing point,” everyone was at it.
What takes most kids just a few years to pick up — and less if we try — took dozens of millennia for Humanity to learn.
But just because we can all learn to do it now doesn’t make it any easier than it ever was.
We’ve just got 150,000+ years of lessons to lean on.
One thing I’ve learnt writing these blogs is many self-help book authors are liars.
You’d be surprised how many things Einstein, Aristotle, and Ghandi didn’t say.
Today was going to be about “eating the frog.” I’m not sure why Brian Tracy chose to misattribute this quote to Mark Twain, but it’s a great example of why you should always double-check history: some old white bloke is probably twisting it.
“History” is full of misattributions, purposeful or otherwise.
Of course Brian Tracey, the epitome of white America, wouldn’t quote a bastard French revolutionary writer who committed suicide after the democratic government turned on him.
It’s way cooler if Mark Twain said it. Plus, everyone knows who he is.
Most of our history is the result of pandering like that.
Evolutionary Theory wasn’t Darwin’s idea — and it’s unproved.
The richest empire in the world was in Africa long before Europe.
The Nazis got the idea for concentration camps from the Brits.
And everybody knew what happened at those Church Schools long before they started taking childrens’ bodies out the ground.
Why do you think they waited until the perpetrators were all dead?
But it’s only real if it fits the narrative.
People who don’t like clichés are missing out.
Clichés were passed down over hundreds of thousands of years to communicate the oldest, most profound knowledge about being human. Caveman talk was probably 90% clichés and pickup lines.
Clichés are unoriginal because they’re true.
This is the story of evil: Hurt people hurt people.
This is the story of happiness: Happy people help people.
This is the story of money: You can’t buy happiness.
This is the story of love: If you love it, let it go.
This is the story of heartbreak: It’s not you; it’s me.
This is the story of fate: Everything happens for a reason.
This is the story of revenge: An eye for an eye.
This is the story of fear: Curiosity killed the cat.
This is the story of envy: The grass is always greener.
This is the story of success: The early bird catches the worm.
This is the story of luck: Every dog has its day.
This is the story of patience: Good things come to those who wait.
Don’t let anyone tell you, “it’s just a cliché.” Clichés are the whispers of our ancestors; life lessons learned long ago.
It pays to listen.
In Ancient Babylon about 3,000 years ago, an old bloke had an idea that changed the world.
He counted seven bright things in the sky that weren’t stars, gave each one a day, and now everyone hates Mondays.
But Monday gets a lot of unfair pressure.
It’s the day we start all our diets and workout plans.
It’s the day we stop smoking and drinking.
It’s the day we start new jobs or return to school.
It’s the day our credit card bills come through.
It’s the day we dread when we hate what we’re doing and the day we eagerly await when we get to do what we love.
Monday is the beginning and end of all weeks, even those that start on Sunday. It’s the day we decided all challenges should begin.
But is that fair?
Wednesday doesn’t get that pressure. Wednesday gets ‘hump day.’
Maybe it’s time we gave Monday a little love — it’s always been there for us.
Even when we don’t want it to be.
In 1945, a decorated Captain in the Red Army wrote a letter that destroyed his life.
As the war ended, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s battle with the USSR began.
He spent eight years in the GULAG, writing without pen or paper. After his release, Alek continued writing secretly.
When he published a story about life in the slave camps, Russia made him a famous writer for a while. But then the regime changed its mind and began destroying his work.
Alek wrote feverishly in secret, spreading his words with friends of friends across borders.
In 1970 those words won him a Nobel Prize. Then a year later, the KGB tried to kill him. So Alek smuggled his most dangerous words out of the country and published them worldwide.
The USSR told him he wasn’t Russian anymore and exiled him. But it was too late.
His words had unveiled the brutality of the regime.
And Alek kept writing until the USSR collapsed completely.
Shortly after, he got told he was Russian again and could return. After a little while, he did. And after his death in 2008, The Gulag Archipelago became required reading in Russian schools.
To show words can be very dangerous indeed.
Times are changing faster than ever.
Some days I look around at the technology we take for granted and can barely believe I get to see this happen.
Computers used to be a joke. We had a computer with 128kb of RAM when I was a kid. 128 kilobytes!
I’m not even sure you can find an image that small these days.
We can speak to anyone face to face through this tiny computer I can put in my pocket. We have robots that dance and space rockets that land themselves. Self-driving cars and drone-taxis will be standard in ten years.
And we’re still not impressed.
This is the stuff I used to dream about in sci-fi books but I never thought I’d see it happen.
Some days I sit here and look back at those dark, bloody, scary, slow pages of history and think:
They really did all of that for us?
And they really did.
That fills me with such pride for humanity that I want to pass it on.
It doesn’t take a historian to tell you that we’re living through history.
But let me tell you anyway: they are not joking when they say these are “unprecedented times.”
And it’s not even just history. I’ve read over 100 science fiction books to prep for the future and not one of them mentioned this. Not one.
Life will never be the same. A whole generation of babies will view the world differently. And we’re probably all going to have PTSD or mysophobia. Or both.
And yet here you are at the end of another week. Another day closer to the end of this madness. Still here. Still smiling. Still living through it all and not doing badly either.
Just making history, as you do.
Did you know that ‘motivation’ is a pretty new word?
It’s only been around for about 150 years, probably less.
Shakespeare had no idea what it meant, and he made up a bagful of silly words.
Before the English picked it up, nobody was motivated to do anything, and so nothing got done. Everyone just sat around in their top hats, feeling sorry for themselves…
Ha! Of course, they didn’t.
They just didn’t rely on motivation to take action. In the past, people did things because that was the thing that needed to be done, even if they didn’t want or agree to them. There was no choice. You just did.
We’re so lucky that we get to be ‘unmotivated’ because that means we’re doing something that we don’t have to do. We have a choice.
Choose to take a step forward today.
Choose to do the hard thing, and you’ll find that your motivation isn’t too far behind.