No matter what happens to us in life, we get to choose the meaning and significance that we attach to each moment and memory. Don't believe me? Think real hard about it the next time someone cuts you off in traffic. You can tell yourself an endless variety of stories about that one event. Perhaps we label them a jerk for not caring, or lazy for not looking, or it's their own fault for not leaving earlier to account for delays in travel time. Perhaps we let it slide, knowing we've probably done the same and it wasn't a big deal or it wasn't intentional.
During my most creative years in college, I made it a habit to carry a journal around with me at all times. It wasn't uncommon for me to stop several times mid-commute to jot down an idea for a poem. I would then use these initial phrases and scenes as a launch point to riff off of and develop it into a completed piece. I didn't really think about it at the time, but the more frequently I wrote these ideas down, the more frequently new ideas would appear. Likewise, when I stopped making it a point to write, eventually these muscles atrophied and I abandoned the habit altogether.
It's been 7 years since I've worn a pair of track and field sprint spikes. This was not a conscious choice, but rather a literal breakup as a result of a ruptured Lisfranc joint that required the use of crutches for over 9 months as it fully healed after surgery. While painful at the time, I am semi-grateful for the experience as it forced me to move onto other things, such as my love of cycling up and around the mountains of Colorado.
Synchronized smartphone checking: this is what I witnessed this morning as 3 people approached a crosswalk only to have the intersection light turn yellow and force a momentary stop. Immediately, and without hesitation, hands reached in pockets and phones were brought up at attention and for the intention to hold their attention for the 20 seconds it took for the traffic to clear.
Ever have a lucid dream? I have. It was an incredible experience when I realized that I was able to take over in the director's chair of this fantasy world stage. I remember thinking "wouldn't it be cool to fly" and then doing it, soaring over a body of water and feeling complete and total exhiliration down to my bones. My entire being was celebrating. It was trippy, like many dreams. But this one was special. This one I made a choice.
When people use the metaphor of "being a punching bag", the focus is usually on quantity and intensity of the attacks being inflicted. What's often overlooked is that, in spite of these attacks, the bag's rugged and flexible nature allows it to absorb the blows before returning to its original position, appearing largely unphased and exhibiting minimal long term effects.
Einstein once said that compound interest was the 8th wonder of the world. While many might scoff at this as an over exaggeration, the reality is that our culture's obsession with quick-fix solutions causes us to overlook the power of this lesson. Notably, while changes appear small and insignificant in the beginning, over time they stack on top of each other and lead to massive change.
Once I'm engaged and immersed in an activity, I rarely have difficulty keeping the momentum going. It's the initiation that I find most challenging. To combat this, I've been experimenting with a new strategy when creating todo lists. Rather than just leave it as the generic (and sometimes overwhelming) task, I write down the smallest possible actions I could take and complete within one minute. Often, it's so embarrassingly easy and small that I can start taking action immediately, but that's not the goal.
There's an old expression about the futility of "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." The point being that when there are more important and/or urgent items to address, such as a huge gaping hole on a sinking ship, it is utterly useless to focus on something as unnecessary as deck chair positions.
There is a famous video out on the interwebs that will put your mental faculties to the test. I won't spoil the outcome if you haven't already seen or heard about it.