Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 197, January 2016)
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New Year's Accountabilities
Forget about "resolutions," which have as much power and authority as a Congressional resolution or UN resolution: zero. Here are some New Year's Accountabilities:
A "year" is an arbitrary measure. Pope Gregory XIII introduced our current calendar format in the last part of the 16th Century. (People squawk about "Christmas trees" yet we use what is known as the "Christian Calendar.") It was a reform on the Julian Calendar in order to bring Easter closer to dates desirable by the church.
The year is based on our orbit around the sun. But we have transmogrified that into a unit to measure everything from corporate earnings to box office records, and from tax payments to anniversaries. And, of course, our best intentions for the new orbit period.
I think our focus on quarters and months is often misplaced. We give ourselves too little time (e.g., to make significant changes in business results) and too much time (e.g., to improve our relationships with family members). A book is a long-term project, of course, I've written 60 and should know that. Yet every single one of them I began on a day very soon after I had decided to write it or a publisher had purchased it. Even long-term plans begin in the present.
The people I see improve the most and the fastest are those who don't put time frames on aspects of the improvement, as if we were organizing a football season's schedule. 'They simply begin. No resolution, no time frame, no partial orbit of the son. They begin. Immediately.
The echolalia of resolutions is tendentious. We regard them with all the bemused skepticism applied to a race track tout, or the televised financial expert extolling certain securities, or the shopping network host telling us the outfit would look good on anyone.
That isn't to say we can't improve, nor that we should give up trying. I'm simply suggesting that every day—each day—we can create another step in improvement by changing our habits, language, and/or self-talk. We don't need starting blocks or starting gate. This isn't a race against Secretariat. Nor do we need celestial mileposts, as though Venus has to be on the cusp of Zeus during the Age of Aquarius.
You simply need to stop reading this and say, "I'm going to act differently starting now."
We're still in orbit, and all things are as they should be.
The human condition: Optimism
My friends, I have a question: What's the alternative?
We are living on a chunk of space rock traveling at 80,000 miles per hour around an exploding star. We influence and control none of that, and scientific and religious argument notwithstanding, we don't actually understand very much of it.
Hence, it's rewarding to be optimistic each day, canine-like in our eagerness to exploit the new morning, because it's the only sane way to live. If you oppose suicide, than why throw your life away piecemeal by worrying about every conceivable issue and assuming and fearing the worst? Every day those of us who drive engage in a huge display of positive faith by driving on roads at 60 miles per hour or more with those around us—distracted, on phones, angry, having consumed alcohol or drugs, daydreaming, depressed, stressed—doing the same within mere feet of our cars.
Ergo, we all exhibit at least a cautious optimism. We believe we can avoid accidents and are willing to take the small risk of someone acting recklessly around us. Our portmanteau is actually filled with reasonable assumptions and safe predictions. One of my favorite apothegms is: "This, too, shall pass."
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt until and unless they prove unworthy of it. I'd like the same favor extended to me. I believe in temporary setbacks and not fatal mistakes. I'm an opportunist by nature, and if something unanticipated is in my path, I don't avoid it, I think about what I can do with it. (A dog will try to eat it and, failing that, play with it and, failing that, urinate on it. My hierarchy is somewhat different.)
Therefore, what choice do you really have? Are you going to face the morning as another long, slow, crawl through enemy territory? Or are you going to sprint into what light we have?
If the latter, that figure out there ahead of you would be me.
Bentley needed some medicine which the vet calls into our local CVS pharmacy. Later that day I appeared at the drive-through window.
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