Shorts: Sixty Minutes

No matter what you’re doing in your life at the minute, no matter how busy your day appears to be, or how much furrows your brow each day – take sixty guilt free minutes; for yourself.

You, are as important as anything else on your plate at the minute. To handle all the things you consider important, you must first maintain that which allows any of it to be dealt with. Or even thought about and decisions considered.

Don’t feed the negativity, and the burden of the world. By feeding it, it only grows stronger, more confident, and more ferocious. It will visit more often, Pavlovian. Instead, feed creativity. Intelligence. Feed passion, love, and kindness. Feed selflessness, motivation, and self improvement. If nothing else, feed relaxation.

You deserve a warm bath. A hot chocolate. Your feet resting up against the table, with something wrapped around your body to keep your heat. You deserve your favourite song playing over the hot of a candle at night.

You deserve kind words from friends and loved ones. You deserve hobby which drives you, regardless of what end becomes of it or its futility.

It’s very easy to get caught up in it all; to wholeheartedly believe you should receive the full weight of burden that taxes you every day, and yet require no rejuvenation. And while that sounds convenient, and very noble; It isn’t. It isn’t brave to struggle, for the sake of it, to endure hardship without reward. It’s just sadism. Or masochism depending on your inclination.

It’s mental flagellation –  and your mind deserves better than that, because it allows everything you are, and how beautifully unique you are, to even take place and be perceived. Even if you get mad with yourself, disappointed, or even just a little disillusioned, remember you are absolutely astonishing.

Talk to a friend, or even better someone who will listen. They can remind you of that fact. They can remind you that life has been continuing outside of all that hinders you from sleep at night, and make larger objects in the mirror appear smaller than you might have thought. They can remind you that life will be okay, and whatever obstacles you considered large, are now long forgotten. So you can relax knowing that whatever stresses you out now, too will pass. In fact, you can take that as the one certainty in a world of anxiety. It will pass.

There is no once else like you, for every nuance of yourself. For small details you do not even notice in yourself, but that a poet would spot in a heartbeat, and write a sonnet without your knowing.

Relax. Be you.

Take sixty minutes. And between us, we’ll call it maintenance.

What Are You Worth?

What are you worth?

It’s not a thought that often crosses the forefront of our mind, but I’d wager that for many, an arbitrary value exists somewhere in the recesses of thought.

This topic was brought about by a conversation I had with some close friends, where I proposed them the following scenario with a single question;


 

“Suppose you are diagnosed with a chronic illness. And unfortunately, the doctor informs you that this illness will bring about your imminent demise. In fact, you will die, tomorrow.

However, the doctor informs you that while there is no cure, there is a treatment, in the form of a single pill. Now what this pill does, is keep you effectively staving off the effects of the disease, for one day.

There are many of these pills, and they are readily available to you. The pill cannot be stacked, but it will work continuously.

i.e. You cannot take six pills and live for six more days, but for every pill you take, you get to live for one more day, specifically the following. So you must take this pill every morning, to continue living for the rest of that day.

Now for the question; at what cost, do you STOP paying for the pill?”

*Perhaps answer the question for yourself, before reading any further.


 

I found this such an interesting question to pose to my close friends, particularly because of the first response I got, when I had asked a clearly startled colleague

Although I am not afraid of death, and in fact, I struggle to identify when you can even call someone truly dead (a topic for another day), I still would always answer – “I would pay anything for the pill.”

I assumed this was an obvious answer, that everyone has the same zest and desire for life, and that my colleague would respond in kind. But instead she replied, “Nothing. I would not pay anything for that pill.”

I was shocked. This completely bewildered me. My colleague doesn’t come across as an unhappy person, and yet I must confess, this was my immediate reaction, although I did not vocalise it. But then immediately, she followed it up with, “I wouldn’t want to leave anyone behind, with a burden of paying for that medicine.”

In a roller-coaster of emotion, I now felt incredibly selfish. I had not even considered the people I would leave behind. In my mind, I thought I would do anything to continue paying for that pill, in the sense of I would accept every inch of the responsibility. But then on further examination of my conscience, I think even if I did leave a burden upon the living… I don’t know. I think my answer still might be “I would do anything for that pill.”

While I cannot know for certain, and it is indeed all a thought experiment, I cannot think of a time when I would condemn myself, to my final day on Earth, voluntarily.

And yet, I then decided to propose a different scenario upon myself alone, based on the famous trolley question;


 

“Suppose I am working in a laboratory, and there is an accident with a spilled contaminant. This contaminant bubbles and breathes gas into the lab. This chemical is lethal when inhaled.

You and your lab partner, the only people in the room, rush to the two hazmat suits in the corner. But unfortunately as you get there, you discover one suit has been ripped, and is rendered useless.

The person who does not wear the suit, will not die a painful death. But they will die over the next minute. There is no cure as of yet, and they will not be revived.

Your partner has abstained from making the decision, and will readily accept yours.

Do you take the suit for yourself, or do you give it to your partner?”

*Again, perhaps answer the question for yourself, before reading any further.


 

Now with this question, my answer immediately would be, “I would give the suit to my partner.”

But again upon closer and initial inspection, it seems that there is a bit of an oxymoron between these two answers on my part. It doesn’t rightly make sense for me to fight so unyielding for my life, and yet on a different breath, give it up so readily.

Now perhaps I am perfectly willing to sacrifice my life for another’s. And I’m sure most people would like to believe this also. Hopefully we will be fortunate enough never be put in that situation, and have to even find out.

But here is where I am torn. I believe you should work hard to leave some part of you on this universe. That you should leave it in some kind of better state than when you found it.

And the idea of granting someone a life, by sacrificing mine helps me fulfil that. But just giving up on my life, doesn’t necessarily fulfil it for me. I think that’s why I fight so hard for the pill. With the pill, I can still try. I can still try with every second of my life to make the universe better in some way. But what if in doing that, I actually make it worse for those I leave behind?

What I’m also concerned with, is I think I would fear the idea of my last day, and my last thoughts, not being good ones. The idea of going home, putting on some TV, calling up far away family members to tell them the news, and gathering with closer family to be with me, and then just passing away – I don’t think it makes the cut for me. I could not have, an ordinary day be my last, without knowing if I truly made the world a better place with my time spend on it. But with the chemical spill thought, I can at least die a hero. Regardless of what I’ve done, some of it may be redeemed, and my successor can continue to do good in this world, because I gave them that chance.

Ultimately; I don’t know.

I don’t believe for the time being I have an answer to these questions both. I think it will take many more conversations and much more time thinking about this before I could propose an answer. Maybe by the time I come to the conclusion, my thoughts on the whole thing might have changed. This, I really do not know.

But with my thought and opinions as they stand today fully out there, let me ask you; What are you worth?

Shorts: You Don’t Have To Be Diamond, Everyday

Diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth. They’re considered the magnum opus of mineral. Their integrity is strong, and their beauty is astonishing. A sight to behold, and a desire to be. But this; you know.

For a lot of us, we use this as an example, as a standard in which to conduct ourselves. In fact those who strive to be good, to do their best have probably at one point of another considered, or assigned themselves the mantra:

“Diamonds are formed under pressure.”

Which makes sense. The strong are only formed through adversity. Arguably anything is only shaped through adversity. If you already fit the mould, you probably aren’t going to change. We keep life long friends who have helped us through tough times, whereas friends we see only in celebration, come and go as fleeting as those times of jest.

However, there is something easily overlooked, or perhaps misunderstood with our comparison to the gem in question. Diamonds may be formed under pressure… but being the hardest substance on Earth, does not make it indestructible.

Jewellers still shape diamonds into pretty cuts. A sharp knock in the right weak spot, and they will break, and shatter into tiny little shards of un-salvageable. Expensive dust, on the floor.

And while fragmented diamond can be replaced; you cannot. Snowflakes will repeat their patterns, long before a you that is not you will be found.

So take care of yourself.

You should strive to be good. Aspire to be great. But remember to take sixty minutes. Everyday that is. At least. Have a bath, or a cup of tea. Listen to music, read a book, or watch a “nothing” TV show. Let nothing distract you. Do not feel guilt, do not think of what needs to be done. Think only of you, for sixty minutes.

And if that which you are striving for, is ultimately unattainable. Forgive yourself. Allow yourself a mistake or two. Allow yourself a mistake or two, regularly.

Not everything you do, has to succeed. Not everything you do has to be flawless. Not everything you do has to be great. Not every word must be well placed, not every syllable well said, and not every emotion entirely due.

Not everything you do has to be completed, and finished, and perfect.

There is no rule; there is no contract you’ve signed your name on to to say you can’t just stop whatever you’re doing, right in the mid-

Shorts: Mother’s Day(s)

According to the dictionary, to mother, is to;

  1. bring up (a child) with care and affection.
    “the art of mothering”

And so apt a definition it is. It’s an art, because it’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s hidden in plain site, and often it’s significance forgotten. If you’re looking for a definition of kindness, or a reason to continue believing in this world in a time of tempest and uncertainty, motherhood should be your guide.

Your mother has held you in the cold, with cotton wrapped around your infant body. She has held you against her, when tears have streamed down your face at matters trivial or otherwise. Your mother has taught you; inspired you; in ways more than one. She has clothed you, paid your debts, and listened to what makes you unique as an individual. She’s cared about it, and listened for countless hours, for the stories you tell her, she will surely tell to anyone who will listen, including strangers, in moments of pride.

She does all this from the moment you are born, knowing you will one day lie to her. Knowing you will one day upset her, move on to other things without her, and act selfishly towards her. You’ll put your feelings first, you’ll reject her advice, and you’ll forget in the moment, all that she has done.

And yet still, unwavering, she will be waiting with forgiving arms. She will not remind you that she told you better, she will not put you down, but raise you up, and she will not ask for favour in return. But only love.

I cannot think, of a kindness, grander, than a mother’s. The act once itself, is so gorgeous one could write a poem. But more astonishing, is rather the constancy of the act.

To all mother’s out there, thank you. For birthing and raising every one of us, since the dawn of human kind. Thank you for your unimaginable kindness, for so many years. So grand a span of time, to consistently be kind. Thank you for listening to us, seeing who we truly are, caring for us, and sharing yourself with us, so that we may learn, and grow.

And to my own mother, thank you. Words sadly fail me, for I cannot describe how wonderful you are. How inspiring you are, every day of my life. How decisions I make, and thoughts I have, are done with you in mind. You’re a thought that does not leave my mind, even though some things pressing may appear for it to be so. I love you with all my heart, for everything that you’ve done.

I love you for your support, your kindness, your friendship, and for being my inspiration to be a better man, for as long as I live.

Happy Mothers Day.

P.s. Spoil your mothers. Treat them. Remind them you love them, and you’re thankful for all they have done. Just be sure, not to limit it, to this one day.