Skills – Lost and Found

To me, the primary reason that we lose once-mastered skills is simply a prolonged lack of application, and with focused effort, we can get them back.

Let’s say, for example, that you are performing a speech, completing a graded school assignment, or even overcoming your body’s tiredness by staying out late. Once, perhaps, you did those well. And now, not so much. What has caused this change? Is it age? A permanent loss of skill? Or is it something more?

Here are three stories to wring this topic of its secrets.

Continue reading “Skills – Lost and Found”

Time Worked ≠ Success

“I worked for 50 hours last week,” said someone.

“Actually, I worked a 60-hour week,” said another.

“Well, I haven’t taken a lunch break in a month and more often than not I am the last one to leave work,” said the last.

There was silence by the someone and the another, and in the end, the last was the self-proclaimed “winner.”

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What is it about some countries’ cultures where long hours are praised, where marathon weeks are seen as a reason to brag?

There is so much more to it than that.

Continue reading “Time Worked ≠ Success”

No Excuses

I am a huge advocate of the phrase, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.” If you know me well enough, you’ve heard me say this at least once.

Do you remember those self-assessments that you may have taken when you were younger, which asked, “Would you get up at 5 in the morning for the fill-in-the-blank activity?” If you answered no, you were said not to care for it enough. If you answered yes, you had found something you loved. When I thought the question through, I came to the conclusion that I loved my sport, but was burned out of playing my musical instrument. It is by no means a perfect test, but I think it gets at an important point.

What you would get up for really goes a long way to defining something you deeply care about, and by extension, this feeds into who you are.

Continue reading “No Excuses”

The Tradeoffs of Technology

She was the only one that looked up.

That’s how I noticed her. At the health-kick food joint that I was standing in, my fellow waiting customers were on their phones. I counted one, two, four, seven. Seven inhabitants, clueless of the world except for the glue that connected them directly to the magical little devices they were holding in their hands.

But she wasn’t. She stood close against the banister leading to the downstairs room, looking around quietly and objectively while taking in the restaurant, the people, the waiting. The others existed, but she lived. She glowed in her silent observing.

She looked up.

And I looked back.

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Isn’t it amazing to think about what the world was like before?  Before… technology?

Nowadays, on public transportation, people are on their phones. In movie theaters before the movie starts (or sometimes, at points during), people are on their phones. During group or solo lunches or dinners, people are on their phones. At work, at home, at stores, at the pedestrian crosswalk, in the pedestrian crosswalk… people are on their phones.

What did people do before?

It was so different.

Continue reading “The Tradeoffs of Technology”

Self-Regret

Have you ever felt so incredibly self-guilty that you wanted nothing more than to just curl into a ball and never brave the world again? So regretful that you wish you could go back in time and hastily scrub away what happened, permanently change the event or action or decision that led you to this precise moment?

Well, I have been there.  As it turns out, I am there right now. In general, yes, depending on the relative gravity of this incident, there are most probably worse things that we can recall or imagine, and we should be grateful. I have been telling myself this. Repeatedly. And yet, as much as I try, I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that is hanging over me like a dirty, indignant cloud making me want to do something, anything, just to exfoliate and find a way to make it all magically better.

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Why does this happen to us, really? Why can’t we, as the human race, reasonably and therapeutically just let all of our mistakes go, have them last as ephemerally as a puff of smoke? I see a world where everyone involved simply twirls his or her hands, yells “Alas!” like an expletive, and then accepts the new slate with a good-natured nod. Why is the weight of self-regret so heavy?

An answer? Because the world wouldn’t work any other way. The consequences of certain decisions are too substantial. Too heavy and impactful to allow decisions, actions, events, to go unpunished.

Continue reading “Self-Regret”

Change

Have you ever had something you loved and couldn’t live without turn into something that just…wasn’t? Maybe your environment changed. Maybe your life changed. Maybe you changed. You’re not really sure. What you do know is that something changed, and it makes you sad. Because that thing you used to do – a hobby, a passion, an activity – has lost some or all of its fire, and you feel lost without the spark. You can’t even find the drive to locate the match and strike it. So you let life go on, wondering what happened and reflecting about what could have been. Because that, and the dreams, and the living present and the laden past and the empty future, are all you have. So life goes on, and you think in passing about what changed. And then that, too, you forget about, because time dampens memory, and people change and adapt. That thing is gone, only a part of the past you, and it hurts. But, slowly, that pain goes away too.

And then you move on.

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Ah, change. Some people love it, some people hate it. As for me, I am definitely in the inertia crowd, but I make a huge effort to recognize that. I think that being aware of our weaker tendencies, so to say, is a good thing. Continue reading “Change”

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a sneaky beast. All it takes is one smell, one song, one sight… and those tied-up memories yank free from their constraints and stream full force to the present. They clamp to the insides of your brain like the most insistent goo, the most stubborn shoe-clinging gum. The memories. Remember me? they murmur. And they attack. Your eyes flash, the familiar ache returns, and you squeeze your eyes shut, feeling the onrush of sensations temporarily overwhelm your senses. You give in and let them through, feeling the richness and the sincerity and the sentiments. Oh, those times… What ever is more powerful than the “what was”? Perhaps, you think inexorably, the “what if”. And you are engulfed with more memories, each just as strong as the last. Helpless, you swim in them for awhile.

Time passes.

At some point you find it possible to open your eyes, having remembered why these were memories in the first place. You stare off into space, pressing your lips together absentmindedly, willing yourself to forget. Eventually you succeed. You run off into your world today, seizing it with a passion that is only slightly more forceful than usual. As you do, you cannot help but discern a mocking little voice in the back of your head as it snickers slightly and then whispers, “Just wait until the next time…”

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This was written in a time of, believe it or not, intense nostalgia. The aforementioned memories were of a good time, but the key word is “were”. Sometimes I want nothing more than to be able to relive certain vibrant parts of the past, but here we all are, in the present and without a way to get back.

How do you deal with such things? Continue reading “Nostalgia”