Time ain’t fair

Clocks were a good idea but they’re not terribly helpful.

Maybe for catching a train or a movie. But time is squishy and malleable, unlike reliable forces such as gravity.

The less you have of it, the faster it goes.

The more you have to fill, the slower it gets.

The more you’re enjoying it, the less there is of it.

If you’re watching, it barely moves at all. And when something really bad happens, it just stops completely.

Time ain’t fair.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll never get enough.

But I’ll take every minute I can get.

 

Say Nothing

Saying nothing is the most dangerous thing we can do.

We like to think that if we keep quiet and keep our heads down, we’ll be ok. But saying nothing could strip us everything.

‘Saying nothing’ is just as loud as screaming through a megaphone. Sometimes even louder. That’s why “your silence speaks volumes”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writes in The Gulag Archipelago about how freedom is eroded, one small submission — one short silence — at a time.

When we say nothing against the mistreatment or abuse of other beings, we sanction it. When we say nothing of our own suffering or fail to advocate for our dreams, we bury deep within ourselves the seed of an all-consuming, bitter plant.

It’s all too easy to say something these days, and even easier to say the wrong thing.

But saying nothing in the face of injustice rips the future from under all our feet.

 

 

 

 

 

To dare is to do

Hindsight is a funny old thing.

We rarely give ourselves enough credit for the great things we’ve done.

The trials of education, the stress of finding a job, getting punched in the face, heartbreak, or an early morning run are all hellish at the time.

But this pain fades pretty quickly, and before too long, we think it was easy. We might even think about doing it again.

A bloke called Seneca said something about this back in the day:

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it’s because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

Once we decide to take on — or are forced to take on — a challenge, it becomes a lot easier.

We’re capable of doing so many difficult things, even those we thought impossible. You’ve already done so many!

 

 

 

 

 

Be done with it

Weekends are funny old times filled with all sorts of odd happenings.

Whatever the plan, it often gets left by the wayside after a couple of mimosas and a splash of spring sunshine.

And that’s no big deal. It’s why they’re there.

Whether it was a workout or work that got abandoned among the Cantalope skins and crusts, at the time, it was the only thing you could have done.

And regardless, it was the thing you did.

There’s no more sense in fretting or punishing oneself for relaxing than there is in refusing a top-up on a bottomless mimosa.

It just doesn’t make sense.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded his young daughter, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.”

Today is a whole new day, in a whole new week, and you can do whatever you want with it.

And that’s all that really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy Stuff

Have you ever been in love with a thing?

There are few things in my life that I treasure enough to cling to: a battered old flute; a guitar that doesn’t play; some trinkets that have been pressed into my palm over the years; a box of old cards.

We like to collect stuff, us humans; useful stuff, pretty stuff, and boxes.

We love boxes to put things in. And we love boxes even more if they come with a hidden box inside to put our secrets in.

Stuff is great, but boxes are heavy. We have to be careful not to collect too many.

I’ve always found that the more stuff I have, the heavier I feel; the more it weighs me down. It’s hard to love a lot of things at the same time.

So, once a year or thereabouts, anything that I’m not in love with or don’t use at least once a month, I give away.

And, you know, I never miss it. 

Not once.

 

 

 

 

Who needs to remember?

Recently, something the dead guitarist said hit home and I began to wonder why we bother to ‘remember the moment’ at all.

That punk philosopher said:

“I realized that so many moments in my life I’d been trying to ‘capture,’ to remember and enjoy later. But there was no point in doing that anymore because I was going to die. Every moment, I just had to enjoy for itself because that was it. I wasn’t going to be able to remember them.”

We’ve all done this — trying to ‘capture a memory’ to savour later. I thought that was being present but it wasn’t at all.

Because that’s really it.

That moment exists and then it’s gone forever.

But isn’t the fact you got to see it just fucking marvellous? And not just see it.

You got to feel it.

You got to hear and taste and smell and live it all.

Nobody else will ever live what you lived.

Who needs memories when we get to live them every day.

Fini.

 

 

 

 

 

Making bad good

Some blokes smell powerful.

It’s like they have so much mass that it leaks into the air around them.

Jocko Willink is one of those blokes.

He was a Navy SEAL officer for many years in the Middle East, and he told me this trick to flip the switch on adversity.

And when Jocko tells you something, you listen.

Anytime something bad happened, he would just say, “Good.”

Sand in your gun? Good. Now you can practice cleaning it.

Shot in the leg? Good. Now you can get some time off.

Lost your job? Good. Now you can find something better.

Didn’t get a date? Good. Now you can go out with your mates.

Gym closed? Good. It’s about time you got into running.

Stuck at home? Good. Maybe it’s time to write that book.

Didn’t get funded? Didn’t get a raise? Sprained your ankle? Got rejected? Got locked-in? Got locked-out? 

Got beat?

Good.

Because when things go badly, some good will always come of it.

Today is important

One evening a few years back, an old Super-Bowl winner told me about a prayer his college coach made him repeat every morning.

It struck a chord so I began to repeat my own little version of it.

It’s quite long so I won’t repeat it all now. But the message that would often send a shiver down my spine is short:

Whatever you do today is important because you are about to exchange a whole day of your life for it.

Make sure you don’t regret the price you pay.

And that usually got me out of bed pretty quick.

 

 

The girl with one eye

Once upon a beach, a girl with one eye said something about pain that still rings in my ears today.

She’d been flung off a speeding motorcycle and had faceplanted a tree stump. It was a miracle she’d survived. The impact took out half her skull, and I could still feel the steel plates in the back of her head.

Typically insensitive, I asked how she’d dealt with losing half her face at sixteen. She said,

“The worst thing that’s ever happened to me is the same as the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. You just get on with it.”

It wasn’t until many years later that I understood.

There isn’t a human alive that hasn’t suffered. And anyone’s hurt is just as valid as anyone else’s.

We might not be equal in wealth or status, but we’re equal in our experience of suffering. Our individual experiences of pain might be different, but we all share in our knowledge of it.

We all share in our trauma, one way or another.

That’s just what it means to be human.

 

Being unmotivated is good

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.

Mistakes are sexy

You’ve probably heard that scars are sexy.

Some psych students even ran an experiment and found it to be true enough.

But why?

Scars are sexy because they’re a sign that we’ve lived. That we’ve tried; we fought for something we care about.

They’re a visible reminder of a mistake.

Shakespeare wrote, “A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good [badge] of honour.”

We don’t just have courage or wisdom. We develop it by taking on challenges, making mistakes, picking up scars, and surviving.

They might hurt at the time, but they usually make a pretty good story later.

And they make you sexier.

So, be proud of your mistakes, whether they left a visible scar or not.

They’re what makes you, you.

How to predict the future

Not many people saw the pandemic coming. And nobody predicted what actually happened in 2020.

Don’t believe anyone who says they know what’s going to happen in the future. At best, it’ll be a lucky guess.

We can’t predict what happens to us, but we can decide what we do next.

We always get to decide how we react.

When you know how you’ll react before the Universe throws the shit — that’s what we call ‘having values.’

And having values is how you predict the future.

So, if kaizen is one of your values, it means you’ve decided to improve: To take a little step forward every day.  To learn something new. To leave our beautiful home a little better than when we arrived.

And to me, that’s greatness.