Lift the Lid

Back in the rectum of history, some boys in white coats stuffed a few hundred fleas into a mason jar.

I don’t know where they got the fleas and how they got them into the jar, but it’s probably safe to say there was a lot of cursing and itching.

Once the fleas were in the jar, they kept trying to jump out and hitting their heads against the lid. Eventually, they gave up.

When the researchers took the lid off, the fleas still didn’t try to jump out because they thought it was still there.

There are many other examples of this trainable aspect of nature, in humans too.

But the magic we humans have is the power to think again and un-break ourselves. We can always try another way. We can keep jumping now and then to be sure the lid is still there.

We can resist any training, but we often fail to recognize the psychological bonds we have wrapped around ourselves.

A kaizen mindset means that we always assume the way we’re doing things wrong in some way.

When we learn to challenge our beliefs regularly, we can even distort time.

Put it in the calendar

A cheap way to learn something about ourselves is by using a calendar.

Once we have to commit to a specific time on a particular day, it’s suddenly very obvious when we don’t want to do something; when it isn’t a priority.

That goes for whether we ought to be doing it or not.

Calendars, agendas, and schedulers aren’t just to write down what we think we want to do.

They can tell us how much we want to do it, too.

 

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.

 

Making Time

Here’s something to help you get what you want today.

Whatever it is you want to get done, write it down. 

Then put it in your calendar or to-do list or a sticky note or your phone, and set an alarm or reminder at a reasonable time to do it. 

Most of the time, taking action towards our goals isn’t the hard part. The hard part is setting aside the time to do them.

When we don’t take the time for ourselves, we give all our time to other people. 

Take a bit of time now and make a little time later to something important for ‘Future You’.

You deserve a little ‘you’ time.

 

 

Forever & Always

Poetry makes it seem like love is something you can lose.

It’s not. But it is fairly easy to misplace.

Cupid swerves his truck through a gutter puddle, soaking a few months or years of our lives in love. But it never seems to last.

And that’s where most people misplace their love. 

It’s hard to see it at first, through all the shouting and screaming and tears. But as time unwinds from love’s silky thighs, a little something gets left behind.

There’s a part of me that remembers being in love with everyone in my past; that remembers a time and place when we were together and we were happy.

We can never go back there but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, locked deep in the past where it can’t be changed.

A memory of time well spent, with someone we cared about.

Always and forever, and never again, all at the same time. 

 

 

 

 

Temporal Bullying

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 a flash

Children are always in such a rush to grow up.

We want to be adults, so we understand what’s going on. We want to be tall and strong and smart and rich, so we can buy all the sweets and chocolate and toys those silly adults won’t buy us.

But there’s really no need to rush. Time already flies.

One minute, you’re playing football in the playground. The next minute you’re 30 years old with debt and a desk job and a bad back.

Enjoy it while it lasts; it’ll be over in a flash.

 

 

 

 

 

Do yourself a favour

It was a long time before I understood what “Do yourself a favour” meant.

There’s a Past Ben and a Future Ben and Me.

For a long time, I didn’t give Future Ben much thought.

I knew about Past Ben, who I didn’t like very much because he was perpetually screwing Me over.

But Future Ben was smart and young enough to handle the consequences of whatever bullshit I wanted to do at the time; to pay this or that debt or worry or pay the price of whatever I wanted to do at the time.

One night a few years back, I had a dream about Future Ben and he was in a very sorry state indeed. And all he said was, “Why? Why did you do this to me?”

After that, I started to do little things to look out for Future Ben — doing him a little favour now and then — because he wasn’t getting any younger.

And sure enough, Past Ben started cleaning up his act, and I didn’t have such a mess to worry about.

And that just made it easier to do myself a favour more often.

 

 

The best time to plant a tree

It’s strange that’s it’s already been a year since my babies were just small black dots with tiny green mohawks. 

They’re about four inches tall now.

I should explain. At the beginning of the pandemic, I planted six Japanese Black Pine trees to bonsai. Growing a bonsai tree from seed is called ‘misho.’ 

It will be at least five years before they’re big enough to be called a tree, but I figured there was a chance lockdown would be over by then.

Somebody gave the seeds to me and I had no idea when or how to plant them. Google said the three best times to plant a tree were:

  1. Autumn/Fall
  2. 20 years ago
  3. Now

If we want to sit under the shade of a beautiful tree, we probably should have planted it a few decades ago. Seeing as we didn’t, the next best time is right now; late is better than never!

Even if we don’t get to sit in that shade very long before, it’ll make a beautiful shelter for generations to come.

Better late than never

About 2,047 years ago, a Roman historian wrote the eternal words, “potius seo quam numquam.

Or in our words, “rather late than never.

But nobody told my high school teacher, Ms. Kattan, that.

She made it so awful to be late that I would rather skip school than face her wrath. I often chose ‘never.’

As children, life throws all sorts of deadlines at us: you’re an adult at 18, have kids by 35, retire at 65, die at 85…

But, time doesn’t really exist.

It’s just an agreement that we make with ourselves so that we can meet people for lunch or catch the train.

The danger is when we start to believe that it’s real.

We miss our goals or deadlines, and we start to believe those dreadful words: “It’s too late.”

It’s never too late.

If it was too late, you couldn’t switch from journalism to midwifery at 32.

And you couldn’t give up engineering and move to Florence to design shoes at 55.

And you definitely couldn’t be 74 years old and follow your dream of being a stand-up comedian — like Julie Kertesz did.

But you can do any of those things.

These stories prove that late is better than never.

So, screw you, Ms. Kattan.

I might be late, but at least I turned up.