Delicious. Saturdays are delicious once again because of a preceding night’s sleep. Somewhere, somehow, the neural pathway to happiness created a kind of shrine around the delight of Friday afternoons and nights and Saturdays. This feeling is sufficiently powerful to drive me to recreate the feel of Saturdays from, let’s see now, at least twenty years ago.
So just why do early weekends mean so much? My gut tells me that it’s the lightening of the load of responsibility that came with them. From pretty early on – primary school at least – I carried life relatively seriously. Homework, mostly, but my minor life commitments did not always create energy. Some friends added and some friend subtracted from that reservoir, which sounds odd now that I write it. It is true, however.
Even the things I enjoyed at the time and remember fondly didn’t always wear lightly. Sport commitments are among my favourite nostalgia trips; footy and rowing for sure, tennis less so. Learning the piano was mostly a mistake, even as it gave me some appreciation for classical music. The hours spent poring over scales and Hanon, Beethoven and Mozart drained much from that time. It simply wasn’t my thing.
And yet I did all of it. The reason is simple enough; I was obedient. If the ‘rents said for me to do something, it was done, unquestioningly for the most part until – piano most notably – it all became too much. Then I said “no”.
Which is at the heart of much in life. Saying no, understanding strengths, chanelling energy and continual self-assessment are among a handful of skills we need to get to a 75% life. The others mostly revolve around how we interact with people, a whole other question.
Anyway. Happy birthday to me. 54 today and still learning.
Every day another study, more information, another set of recommendations. Something new to digest pops up every day, whether we’re talking food, eating, exercise, illness, mental health, relationships, how to manage your household, environmental dangers…on and on.
Naturally we develop a skin to protect us from this avalanche. Few of us (actually, a very few in my opinion, including me) have any way to discern the junk from the judicious. So we ignore, meaning we ignore the good and the bad.
I apply a few clear rules. My personal guidelines attempt to reduce as much as possible to first principles.
- With food, the less manufacturing input the better.
- With stuff around the house, the more natural the better.
- With diet, less is more. Choose quality, ensure moderation.
- Any exercise is better than none, and habit-forming exercise is best.
- Relationships start with me: character, honesty, forthrightness.
- When I reasonably control all I can about myself, bad will still happen.
- Grace is the act of being the best under all circumstances.
- We all die. The sooner we make good with that, the better.
When I get the feeling, it leaves me a little non-plussed. What am I not getting here? Why doesn’t stuff work out better? What critical fact am I missing?
I asked this of my friends Kregg and Daniele Sunday night, and they were typically savvy. First, know that the fact of asking a question is a sign that you do get it, they said. And be reassured that the nature of life is such that no-one really gets it. Our species is limited in many respects, and this is one of them.
From which my take-away was: That’s why we have faith.
Life’s disconnects are unavoidable. Science and technology have moved so far in recent, say, centuries, that we think only time stands between us and full understanding. That, my friends, is an expectation that will never be met. The paradox is that more knowledge only opens up more questions.
Which helps me in two ways. One, best deal with what you can do; stop dreaming. And two, stick to basics like doing the right thing, bolstering character, working intelligently, remaining humble, keeping a big picture in mind.
Things might just work out.
Angry or disgruntled people sometimes resort to the “respect” word.
You don’t respect me, or Where’s the respect, man?
When in doubt, accuse. If unable to articulate a grievance, create a mirage and complain about it. Misuse words to create conflict.
Respect is about deep admiration. Respect takes time. Respect requires understanding. Respect is rare and valuable.
No. The fact of your existence does not engender my respect. Neither do I require, need or even countenance yours of me. Words have meaning.