Definition – A study of “Now”

It would be a presumptuous yet fair statement, to say that we all have a preconceived notion of what we want from our time in this life that we perceive as ours. An idea of what it would take for us to reach the plenum of existence, and consider ourselves “fulfilled”.

And yet, if you were to stop for a moment; put a pause of your life as best you could, and write a list of exactly what it is that you want from your time on this Earth, and make a conviction and a promise not to change that, you would run into two distinct problems.

One: while it is perfectly easy to suggest you pause your life, you obviously and unfortunately cannot. If you were to take your time and write this list, with the intention of completing it in totality and never changing it, you would encounter a problem based on an assumption you would have had to have made, in order to even begin writing the list. The assumption would have been that you, unlike everything else in the universe; are static. An assumption that while your body grows old and tires, YOU are always YOU.

When in reality, YOU are changing all the time. You are not some steadfast rock grounded into foundation which a river works around, rather you are part of its water. It just becomes difficult to define the water part, in the same way you can point to the whole river and say “water”, or pick out a single molecule and say “this too is water”.

It’s a result of a struggle to separate the “I” of the mind and the “I” of the body. Assuming they are not one thing, because one part thinks, and the other part is physical matter. We forget the physical matter provides the means by which the conscious thinks, and can therefore perceive the physical part.

The two are cyclical; perfectly chicken and egg. And the two are changing at every second of the day as you flow from one moment to the next. A great example of how ever fluctuating both your mind and body are; is you may have a memory of a time you were brave, and so you could define yourself as courageous – that you put your body in harms way to save another in some form. And yet, you will probably also remember a time when you were cowardly. When you stood and watched a bully, rather than intervene, for fear of reprocusion. So are you brave, or are you cowardly?

Or were you simply brave in one moment, and cowardly in another?

But while you think of that; you will come to:

The second of the two problems: you can write down the words, “I want to be happy” or “I want to have wealth”; but you must remember that these are just words, not the feeling as they are themselves.

That is to say, that to physically say the words, “I am happy.” is not the same as being happy itself. Being happy is an indescribable feeling, because once you are in a moment of happiness, you’re not thinking about how happy you are; you just are. Like all else, it’s like a flow. You lose track of time, and you simply are the experience you are living, and it’s one which through one way or another evokes happiness. If you are to stop and think “why am I happy?” or “how happy am I?” you have begun to detract from the experience, and may actually think “how could I be more happy?” which decreases the intensity of the experience further so that actually you can’t describe your feeling of happiness just now, because you’ve lost yourself trying to define it, and by comparing it to future or further happiness it’s now not as happy as you imagine you could be.

So you’re defining nothing.

In the same way you could say you “want wealth” and in one moment mean “money” and in the next mean “purpose.”

In summary; what this effectively means, is a “You” which is no longer “You”, is defining an experience of say, “Happiness” which you cannot define, because the “Happiness” you are trying to define has passed to the variation of “You” than you were, and the “You” that you are now because you spent the time to define it.

Classification and definition are traits of the intelligent entity; perhaps experience is the trait of the wise entity.

To live the moment; is better than to define it, for in defining it, you surrender it.

And while you could define a moment, retroactively, this is defining a memory of a moment, and not the moment itself. So it is subject to infinite complications and inaccuracies.

Definition enables comparison. Rather than experiencing temperature, you are now experiencing hot or cold, or hotter or colder. This applies to happiness and sadness.

Rather, live in the moment as it is. Do not fear it or long for changing of circumstances, simply bask in what is. And while you can choose to define, at least understand what you are doing to the moment by categorising it. Take the moment as it comes, as it is in its purest form. Do not long for more or less of it, or a greater or lesser intensity of it. Simply; be.

Regardless of what you do; I hope the moment you find yourself in now, is a happy one. Just try not to think about it.

 

Uncertainty

Uncertainty, it’s a wonderful thing.

It ensures that you live out a fascinating and astonishing life, rather than a mundane one. With every day different, you can be sure you should continue on going because there is so much to see and do.

And yet, it’s so commonly associated with anxiety because anxiety requires it for its very definition. But the two are not interchangeable. Just because you are uncertain of something, does not mean you must be anxious of it.

Uncertainty, refers only to the unknown state or outcome, of future events. Anxiety, refers to the negative feelings most commonly associated with uncertainty. So what happens then, if we remove anxiety, and instead explore uncertainty?

Humans innately strive for the illusion of control; the ability to steer your car down a particular fork in the road, to lead you to pastures new. The problem being that while in theory this seems pleasant, and very deterministic; life is much more chaotic – and while you can choose which road you travel, the problem is your field of vision is foggy at best. So while you may choose the nicer, more well maintained road – you could find that as soon as your on it, there are more obstacles in your way; roadworks or the cars of others that slow you down and bring you to a halt. Perhaps the cars that drove down the nice path did so, because they liked the seaside view next to it. But maybe you don’t like the sea.

So while it’s nice to think you’re in control and making the right decisions, in reality you’re about as likely to predict the correct outcome as the flip of a coin. So why worry about the uncertainty of it all? It’s tension. All of your choices, every single one you have ever made, has been half chance – and so have everyone else’s.

Let’s suppose your loved one is away on travel, and you’re irrationally afraid for their safety. Let’s suppose they are already gone, and so you do not have the option of convincing them not to go or packing a bulletproof vest in their suitcase. Now, whether or not their destination is a safe haven or a war-zone, it does not behoove you or anyone to worry or remain anxious for any length of time. You do not have control over this situation. You are uncertain of the outcome, but that does not mean you have to fear it. The outcome will remain the same, regardless of your fear of it. So why worry?

Apply this to the toxicity of self doubt, in any given situation. How many hours could you justly say that you have wasted thinking about events… which never happened? But you thought they might. And so it felt very real. To you. As real as if it had happened, because just like when a real thing happens and it takes its toll, so too will you be tolled as long as you treat fictitious events as though they are true.

So remove this anxiety from your life. Remain in the moment – and if anything, embrace the fleeting nature of it. Embrace that as you try to hold onto the moment, already it has passed. So do not hold on to it – rather, live it. The universe does not have to adhere to your laws of expectation. Nor does it work on the same reference of time. It can change what it’s doing in an instant, just as you can.

Accept uncertainty. It is merely a synonym, for freedom, when it is not necessarily you who is in control.


Another article you may find helpful regarding this topic of abandoning the illusion of control, and not fearing it, can be found here:

Shorts: The Apple Tree

Colt – Chapter 1 – Part 1

Chapter 1

 

Clara ran faster than she thought her legs could take her, leaving behind the dead horse that lay on the side of the road. The hot summer sun burned the dry Texan ground. She ran past the splinted sun bleached sign that read Armadillo, and sprinted straight towards the tall light brown house with the only completely intact shutter board windows in the whole town. Dirt and sand gathered speed in the wind, and blasted the sides of the house. Tiles attached to the roof struggled to stay there.

Inside the house, Cooper shaved away the last remaining splinters of wood that hung off the end of his ten thousandth barrel. His hands were worn and calloused Splinters in the barrel couldn’t penetrate the tough skin of the edge of his fingertips. As the heat intensified, steam rose from his scalp. It occurred to him that he’d never experienced such a warm heatwave in all the years he’d been on God’s earth. His tired eyes zoned out, as he looked deep into nothing. His cracked hands wiped away his dirty blonde hair that hung down in front of his dark blue eyes. With the swipe of his brow, sweat fell from his hands that  squeezed out some of the moisture that now drenched his forehead.

Clara burst through the door, with tears in the corners of her eyes. As she ran from door to center room she looked her husband up and down. Cooper stood up and spun around, raising his sweat drench arms up to grab her by the waist.

“Clara, what’s wrong?” He asked, trying to meet her eyes. She did everything to avert his gaze, as he shouted once more, “Clara?” His voice was hoarse. Like shards of glass lined his throat.

The children in the backyard were too loud amongst themselves to hear the shouting in the house behind them, to them it was just another sunny day.

“Clara, my darling, what’s wrong?”

“They’re, they’re coming!” She intended to whisper, but it came out as a whimpered shriek.

“Who?”

“Everett… and his men… they’re coming!”

Cooper let go of his wife, and stepped backwards, “Why?”

“They’ve heard something… someone sold us out…”

“Who?”

“I don’t know!” She fell back into Cooper’s arms, and wrapped herself around him, pressing her ear against his wet shirt. He caught her as his eyes focused beyond the wall. He took a deep breath, trying to slow down his heartbeat for her ears.

“What do they know?”

“They just know…” she still struggled to catch her breath, “That someone helped them… and someone said it might be us…”

“Do you think the marshall told them?”

“No… he’s a good man. He wouldn’t have paid us otherwise…”

Cooper was not so sure. But that was unimportant now.

“Cooper, what do we do?”

He did not know. Or rather perhaps he did, but he could not say it for hope’s of a miracle. After a few eternal seconds, he spoke, “Okay… How long do we have?”

“A couple minutes… I had to leave Ralph dead by the side of the road to get here in time… they were right there!”

“Okay… grab the kids, as quickly as you can…”

“Cooper…”
“Get them, quickly!”

She looked up at him for a moment, before rushing out towards the back porch. From inside she began yelling for the kids to come to the house, but it was unlikely they would hear. She opened the back door and ran to grab them by the wrists.

Cooper stood for a moment looking out onto the short wooden table that took up most of the space in their living area. On one of the seats beside it, a recently washed pile of clothes were stacked neatly from yesterday’s Sunday wash. Without looking away from the spot on the table his eyes had fixed upon, he quickly grabbed a fresh tan shirt from the pile, and replaced it with the identical shirt he had worn. As the smelly version of his shirt passed by his nose, he was all the more thankful for his wife and all that she did to keep fresh clothes at the ready. She even left her own scent pressed on the shirts as she folded them.

All of this had in reality only taken him a few seconds, but time had seemed to slow for him in that moment. Suddenly he realised he did not have a set of moments to spare, and immediately ran upstairs to the bedroom with the double bed. Without hesitation he opened the drawer next to his side of the bed, digging around amongst the accumulation of lint that had been gathered over the years. He brushed aside the delicately made wooden horse he’d sculpted over last Winter with Ike, and grabbed the thick silver key to the safe. As he turned back towards the door, he caught a glimpse of Clara’s pajamas, still draped across the bed sheets.

With fast feet he reached the living room. He could hear the commotion outside of Clara carrying the kids as they laughed and jostled in confusion. Unwavering from his task, he stuck the key into the safe, and turned it, quickly pulling the heavy metal door aside. This safe was built into the foundation of the house, and had been covered discreetly by a table, with a set of drawers built into either side of it, and one on top. Inside, lay one set of precious treasure. He began lifting out the bars of gold one by one. Each of them freshly smithed in recent months.  They were heavier than he remembered.

Clara came into the living room, with both Ike and Morgan, both wearing tops with little sailing ships sewn into a pattern on the chest by their mother, “Honey… what are you doing?”

“I have to move the gold.”

“Why? Keep it safe, keep it there!” she pointed to where the bars had been, “That’s the first thing they’ll look for!”

“Yes.” He continued to load out another block placing them on the table, “And the safe would be the first place they’d look…”

“But the key-”

“They wouldn’t believe a man doesn’t know where the key to his own safe is.”

“You’re not going to talk to him are you?” Her eyes widened.

“I have to Clara, it’s the only chance I’ve got to get you and the kids out of here…”

“What?”

The two kids looked uneased for the first time, as the eldest held some comprehension of what his father was saying, while the younger could simply hear the panic in her mother’s voice.

Ike spoke up, “Pa?”

“Listen here Ike -” He turned away from the gold bars for a moment, and crouched down, placing his hand upon his Son’s shoulders, “I need you to be a really good boy for me, okay, can you do that?”

“Pa?” He repeated, unsure.

“I need you to go with your mother, and your sister, and be as quiet as you can be, okay? Find the best hiding spot you can in the barn out back. This is important.”

Ike nodded slowly, still unsure. His father’s eyes found his.

“And when your mother calls, I need you to climb on Tucker, and get ready to ride out with your mother if you have to okay? I’ll be right behind you – but until then you have to be in charge of your sister okay?”

“I get to be in charge of Morgan?”

“You sure do buddy, but you need to be as quiet as you can for Ma first, okay?”

“Okay, Pa.”

“I love you very much” Cooper squeezed his boy as tightly as he could, running his fingers up his skinny back and breathing in scented air from the top of his head. He turned to his little girl, who had yet to fully grasp the situation, “Bye sweetie, I love you.” he pulled her in, tucking her nose against his shoulder. She reached out to grab him thinking she was to be carried, but he pushed her away.

He looked at them both together, “Now run along! Stay in the barn until your mother says so, okay?”

Ike nodded and grabbed his sister by the hand, as they both ran as fast as they could, out onto the backyard, through where the grass used to be, passing the broken down wagon, and into the barn. They nestled themselves deep into a hay bale at the back of the shed. A ladder led to the upstairs, but Morgan could not climb yet, and even Ike knew he did not have the strength needed to carry her.

 

“Quickly, darling, help me move these gold bars into the drawer above the safe.” Immediately they both did so.

“Cooper, honey, what’re we doing?”

“We’re going to put the gold above the safe, because there’s no time, and hope that they don’t ransack the whole house… I’m going to have a talk with Mr Everett.”

“Wha- Why can’t we just put the gold on the horses and get out of here?”

“We only have one horse left, remember? The weight of this gold, there’s no way it can carry you, Ike and Morgan, the supplies you’ll need AND the gold… it’ll collapse before you reach Blackwater.”

“We’re heading to Blackwater?”

“Safest place you’ll be for now.” They finished storing the last gold bar in the top drawer, she slapped her hand around his wrist, spinning him towards her, “We’re not leaving without you.” She looked deep into his eyes, less afraid than she had been before. For a moment they were quiet, and the distant sounds of horses could be heard for the first time.

“My love… I surely hope that you do not have to… but… we may not have a choice…”

She bit the top of her lip as glass eyes returned, “I don’t want to leave you.”

“Nor do I want to leave you… but if you run, chances are these men will catch you, they are well known for chasing their victims relentlessly… so there is one last thing I must ask of you. And I need you to be brave.”

“Anything for you…”

“That old wagon in the back… I need you to wait in it. I need you to ready it, incase anything goes wrong.”

“The marshalls big gun?”

“The gatling gun in the wagon can be operated by simply turning the crank, and pointing it towards the house. There is a belt of ammunition sitting beside it. I need you to load it up, prop the gun so that it faces the living room. If the situation looks dire… if it’s a worse case scenario, or if they are persistent, I will invite them into our home. I will feed them, offer them our ales. Buy you time. However, should that not work…” he took a deep breath, “I need you to fire that gun, into the living room, for no less than ten seconds, before running to the barn and speeding off with Tucker and the kids, okay?”

She looked down to her muddied boots, stifling her tears, “How will I know to fire? I cannot risk it.”

“If you hear gunfire… even a single shot… you must fire.”

“I can’t-”

“My love.” He looked at her, “I will already be dead…” He let that sink in for a moment, as they watched the movement of each other’s eyes, and noticed the small details in one another’s face that they had fallen in love with, “What you will do is give you and the kids a fighting chance… even if you hit some of his men, Everett will cower until long after you are gone, and you can head to Blackwater. If you hit Everett, the marshall will pardon you and offer you safety here in Armadillo. It’s your best chance… Please do this for me sweetheart.”

By the end of his sentence, the sounds of horses had suddenly begun to roar, as they both darted their eyes towards the fortunately closed windows. The winnie of many horses came to a descendo.

“I love you, Cooper.”

“I love you too, Clara. I always have. And I always will.” They clutched at each other once more, pressing their bodies as close as they could manage. They fit in the jigsaw pieces they had found during their marriage.

“Go!” Cooper exclaimed with a hushed whisper.

She immediately turned on her heels, picking up some extra supplies in her backpack she had left by the door. She grabbed Cooper’s also, turning to see him one last time. He had already turned to face the door, and she left with the view of his back.

 

“Cooper Holt!” A rugged worn voice from outside called towards the house. For a moment, Cooper did not reply, and instead took a breath of the warm air inside his home. The voice repeated again, more impatient than before, “Cooper Holt, come on out here!”

Cooper walked towards the door, sure to slow his eager footsteps. As he reached the door, he slowly pushed it open to allow his eyes to acclimate to the glaring light. No amount of opening the door slowly could help him from the sheer brightness of this day. His retinas seared with pain. He grimaced, wishing he had remembered a hat from inside.

When his eyes found themselves again, he scanned each of the men he found in front of his home. There were four men, each on horseback, and a single carriage behind the four, with an extra man there holding the reigns of the horses. He looked more well dressed than the rest. The others clearly did not prioritise hygiene. They each had rugged beards, roughly styled in different fashions, and clothes to suit daily work with horses or farmland. They each carried a repeater rifle in their hands, which they gripped tightly to their chests.

As Cooper made his way around the men, he did not recognise them, until he reached the man on his left who was closest to the carriage. This man had two extra revolvers in holsters on the side of his pants, and a spattering of different sized bullets wrapped in a belt about his waist. His eyes were narrow, and his face scarred and weathered. His beard was the most well kept, and his clothes clearly the most expensive and well maintained. He wore a long duster coat that rested down either side of horse. Cooper had only seen him in passing, on posters in the marshall’s wall. This man, was affectionately known, as The Dag.

“Cooper Holt?” The Dag inquired once more, tilting his hat towards the man on the porch.

“Yes. How can I help you gentlemen?”

The Dag did not answer, and instead continued chewing on tobacco he had stored in his mouth. After looking for a moment, he turned to the carriage, “Alright! Come on out!” He shouted.

Almost in an instant, the carriage door flew open. Stairs fell out between the carriage and the ground. A pair of black shoes, emblazoned with gold insignia’s in a dancing pattern emerged from the carriage. Atop them, a sharp pressed grey suit, immaculately kept. Clearly by the bulging waist, there were guns hidden underneath, but careful effort had been taken to minimise the look. From above his shirt collar, a chiseled man stood firm in the hot sun. His jawline and cheekbones were clearly defined, as a man who would eat only the finest of foods for pleasure rather than necessity might look. He had nothing more than the beginning of a five o’clock shadow on his face, and as he removed his hat from his head, a full head of brown hair emerged, neatly kept and recently trimmed. As he stood for a moment, allowing his eyes to get used to the new light, he embraced the heat on his face. When the seconds passed, he turned his head towards Cooper, catching his eyes and smiling wide without baring his teeth. Without expecting a returned smile, he hopped off the carriage and began walking down the path towards the tall brown house. He looked all around, measuring the size of the house, how well the land had been maintained, and watching the windows that had been kept shut. Finally, when we reached the porch, he stopped in the dirt. The soil kicked up at his heels, ruining his otherwise perfect suit. He enquired once more, with a calm yet deep voice, “Mr Holt?”

Cooper nodded his head up and down, “Yes, sir.”

“Ah… fantastic. I have been looking for you.”

Cooper did not reply, glancing only at the men with guns quickly, and then back to the conversation.

“Are you aware of who I am?” The man asked.

“Yes, sir. I believe I do.”

The grey man gestured with his hand a motion to move the conversation along, “Could you tell me, please, so I can ascertain whether you are correct?”

Cooper studied the man before him once more,  “I believe you are James Everett, leader of the Everett gang, and Sheriff of the town of Hacksaw, and Allerdale for a number of years now.”

James Everett smiled at the explanation, “I do believe I could not have put it better myself.” he turned to face his counterparts, “I am indeed lawmaker of both the town of Hacksaw, and Allerdale, and have been for a number of years – and if I am able to permit myself to be so candid…” he stopped for a moment to shrug his shoulders, “I do believe I am very good at what I do.”

“So I have heard.” Cooper replied.

Everett smiled once more, allowing it only to fade as he spoke, “Regardless, while I believe this to be true, it is commonly known that the good men and women of the United States government do not agree with me.” The Dag let out a sigh of air in the form of a laugh behind him, “Apparently it is considerably frowned upon to be self-proclaimed lawman, and as such, occasionally we come into a bit of disagreement.”

Two of the men on the horses smiled brightly enough for it to be seen under their hats.

“Again, that being said – recently we have come to a mutual agreement, that should I make myself relatively scarce on a daily basis, focus on my productions elsewhere, slip some funds in places they need to be, and not cause too much of a disruption to their ever expanding trade routes and railway lines, they would agree to look the other way. Which I believe to be a fair, and respectable offering by the powers that be.”

Cooper nodded his head in agreement.

“However, recently it has come to my attention, that some marshalls in the nearby county disagree with some of their other fellow lawmen, and have taken a particular dislike to me, to my men, and to my activities. And in an attempt to thwart my rackets, they have recently killed two of my highest ranking men… One, Butch Findlay, of Findlay farms, and one, Louis Cassidy, of Peppermill. Have you heard of these men?”

Cooper pictured their warped and bloodied faces in his head, “I have not.”

Everett looked a little surprised, “They are quite well known men around these parts… You’re sure you haven’t heard of them?”

Cooper shook his head once more, “I have not heard of them.”

“Hm” He pursed his lips, “Nevertheless, it appears that someone in this area is in collaboration with the marshalls that wish to cause harm to myself and to my men… and while I would never suggest that this could be you, we have had some accusations of collusion with another party. As I said, while I do not believe it to be you as I’ve heard you are a well respected man amongst these parts, I would very much appreciate your help in the matter of this investigation.”

“What can I do to help, Mr Everett?”

“Well if you would permit us, Mr Holt, I would like to come into your house, conduct a small search of your premises, purely to clear your name of said accusations from my mind.” While he smiled, it seemed to fade the more that he talked until he reminded himself internally to smile again, “And as it is very hot out here, I would appreciate a cold glass of water, and to ask a few questions, purely as a formality.”

They looked at each other for a moment “Would that be okay with you?” As he spoke, the men behind him played with the guns in their hands, pointing their rifles up into the air. Cooper looked at each of the men in turn, before smiling at James Everett.

“Of course, Mr Everett. Excuse my manners, I have simply had a long day, and as my wife is away on business is had left me to more chores than usual.  Please forgive my lack of hospitality. Would you come in for a cold glass of beer instead?”

“Ah, I had heard that you store deliciously famous beers on your premises, and I must admit that I had hoped that you had some left. Would you care to spare a glass a weary traveller?”

“Of course, Mr Everett, for you and your men. Please…” He surrendered, beckoning them into his house.

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-

People who cross at traffic signals.

If you can, at any point in life, be the person who decides when to cross at traffic signals, irrespective of their colour.

When you are on your way to work, or spending an idle day in the presence of a busy street, watch the people who wait by the traffic signals.

When the light for pedestrians is red; stand and watch. You’ll see a spattering of different humans, each categorised into a few different tropes, of which you will fall into one.

There are those who stand still, on their phone, gathering news, messaging friends, and ultimately and more truthfully, watching videos of animals being cute or humans falling over. These people have no concern for the traffic, for they know when to move, as the periphery of their eyes tell them that the bodies around them have begun to shuffle. And so too they canter to keep up.

There are those who listen to something on their headphones. Perhaps it’s a podcast, a motivational speech, an audio book, or some music. But whichever it is, they will stare blankly as possible across to the other side of the road, until perhaps at some point a smile will curl up from the edges of their mouth. It’s a song they like. Or maybe they’ve related to something said. They normally pay more attention to the traffic signals than those mentioned before.

There are the elderly, who rather consistently will not be on their phones, or listening to music. Largely they have grown without it, and unlike the younger generations can continue to do so, without trepidation, or the fear of the world passing them by.

There are the confident or perhaps flirtatious people, who can be an extension of the first two, except that these people are merely pretending to be doing what they are not doing. They instead, are thinking about how they look, and trying to appear as casual as possible, as they occasionally catch eyes with someone across the street. They smile and look at the floor, or up to the sky. Funnily enough, this casual attitude will extend as they both pass each other in the road when the lights do change. Unlike in adverts for perfume, no one ever meets in the middle of the road. Unless flattened.

There are people, who are eagerly awaiting the changing of the traffic lights, because a friend or loved one awaits them on the other side. These people have most likely forgotten all rules of social conduct, as they cheer and wave at their counterpart. Sometimes they’ll even shout words, that when taken out of context are either deathly frightening, or intolerably intriguing.

There are people who are anywhere between the age range of young to elderly, who are not on their phones, they are not listening to music, and they are not particularly looking at anything around them. These are insane people. Avoid these people.

There are a few other tropes, but as the list goes on, more so do they reach into sub-genres of the above mentioned. Regardless, the sustenance was never whom the crowd consists of; it is that they are waiting at the red light when they need not be. For there are only two options when there is a red light, either there is traffic coming, or there is not. And yet from our 50% chance, I would wager that 99% of the time, people are waiting. People are just standing… waiting.

Why? Unless jaywalking laws are particularly strict in your country… Why are you waiting? What are you waiting for? You do not need to listen to a light. If you are listening for the light, I can assure you, you will not hear it. This light is a guide, not a rule. Cross the road, if you wish to do so. Get to where you need to be, regardless of who is telling you otherwise. Regardless of who around you has chosen not to move forward, or stand still; you don’t need to listen to that whatsoever.

Take your surroundings, or advice, or rules, as a basis for caution; but do not let it hinder you. Because when you cross at a traffic signal, when the light is red, and no traffic is coming; you will notice something remarkable. Suddenly, 99% of people have begun to move. And now it all becomes silly, how such a small thing had been stopping them all along.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they act at traffic signals. Be a brighter beacon than that dim light telling you what to do.

– While this is all well and good, there is an addendum to this, which acts as an exception.

When the traffic lights turn green for pedestrians to move, and everyone starts moving; Watch for who is left behind. If someone stumbles or falters, perhaps they are unsure or need a hand – Stay. Wait. Help them. Take valuable time out your day, to make them feel valuable too.

For if you rush too far ahead, and leave all those in need of a little help behind you, perhaps you will turn around to find, that you left a better version of yourself behind also.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they act at traffic signals.

So perhaps the next time you’re beginning a new day, you’re at a crossroads, and you need to make a decision, remember this article. And reflect on how the traffic signals had nothing to do with anything.

Important thoughts, thought last.

The fourth beat;

I know it’s coming, and I calm myself.

The body is still in shock, but my mind is settled in its own.

As I lay back in my bed, I know now that it is too late to bargain.

Death’s machination; It has already begun.

Instead, I quickly pray for my last thought, to be a good one.

Although, my current thought feels persistent in the back of my mind

Clinging on, as though it will not leave me.

And that thought; I simply do not want to go.

The third beat;

The light begins to darken at the edges of my eyes, and my ears betray my balance.

If I were not sitting down, surely I would have fallen.

My head slowly falls back onto my pillow. Its final resting place.

I look at the pattern on the roof, the cracks and the fissures.

Straining my eyes I try, to fully capture one final picture.

One final still frame, called a moment. A memory.

My head falls to the side; and I see my condensation encrusted beer on my bedside table.

Amber leaves out the window, falling in the wind.

Sunlight always finds a way.

The second beat;

Closed eyes. It goes on, doesn’t it? Life. Whether I am here, or not, it continues.

Leaves will continue falling.

Sunlight will continue to brighten.

Beer will continue to sweeten the lips of lovers.

And it could not end, for nothing ever has. Every end must surely be a beginning.

Every bad time came to a close, every good time did not last.

Even now, my final thoughts do not belong to the same person in which in this body was born.

Not one single part of me has been the same. I was someone different all through my life.

And so in many ways, so many of me never did die. Or perhaps they already have.

The final beat;

I do not want to go. I do not fear nothing, for nothing has never existed.

I have never understood. And as I reflect, my life seems iridescent.

The humbling of I being one of many; and yet the grandiosity of knowing

That the universe in all its grandeur, existed within the circumference of my eye.

And while my final thoughts are of understanding, acceptance, friends, family and cold beer.

I cannot help think, as the light comes down low.

I simply do not want to go.

Temporary

Everything, is temporary.

One of the quickest ways to become hopeful is to remember that.

One of the quickest ways to become ungrateful is to forget it.

When you have found yourself surrounded by loved ones, be that friend or family, when you have a hobby or a job that you enjoy that occupies your day or night, when your hard work ultimately has paid off; you can remain humble by remembering that simple phrase.

At some point or another, that which you are experiencing at the time you call here and now, will end. It’s not something to fear, or to be sad about. An end always leads to a beginning, and vise versa. It is cyclical, and otherwise known as “change”.

It may lead to something much better. It may lead to something worse. But for the moment when all is good, you need only remember that phrase to remain grateful. Be in that moment, and enjoy it for everything it is. Every sight, every sound, every scent and touch. Every pleasant thought. It’s yours; and in this exact moment, no one can take that away from you.

Equally, when times are bleak; when the walk home seems steeper than you remember, or when colours have conspired to grey themselves, reminding yourself of the above can give you some sanity, when perhaps you can find none.

Be it lighthearted physical pain after or during exercise, and you’re struggling to power through – you can simply remember that as it is temporary, you will recover. You can push yourself a little further, the results will be much more impressive, and you will feel the benefits for longer.

If, however, for example you have found yourself struggling to cope with the loss of someone (this can be through death or otherwise) you can take solace in those words to live by. There is no guarantee that temporary will mean an hour, a day, a month, or even a year; but the fact that what you are experiencing is temporary is an absolute certainty.

Change will come, as it always has. The universe abhors staying still. It does not create or destroy, it only changes.

You will be okay. And you will change with whatever comes next. It only takes time.

It just so happens that time is a funny old thing. Always fleeting. The moment you try to grasp onto it, it is gone. So, rather, let it go. Accept that times change, and so do you. Simply enjoy that moment, that only the you in that moment, will ever experience.

Everything, is temporary. Including you.

BUT WHAT IF?

What are you worrying about?

Being worried doesn’t make any sense. As my Grandmother always says, “You worry and you’ll die, you don’t worry and you’ll still die.”

And the ironic thing about worry, is that you know you shouldn’t worry, but that doesn’t mean it goes away. But you’re aware of it. So now you’re going to worry about the fact your worrying, and you know you’re doing this and you worry about it. It’s a vicious cycle and it doesn’t go away – until something else distracts your mind. Work. A hobby. That thing you worry about.

You could wager that there are things in life where it’s perfectly acceptable to worry – how much money you have left in your bank account, how well your current relationship is going, if your relative is going to survive another winter. If you’ve been mentally nodding your head, then your missing the point.

These are perfectly acceptable things to dislike about life, to get angry about, to get sad or emotional about – but not worry about. All these other things make sense, you dislike something because it makes you or someone you care about unhappy, you get angry because your frustrated by a person or thing, you get sad because of loss or desire. But you worry – for nothing. There is no psychological, evolutionary or societal advantage to being worried. All it does is stress you out. And that’s no good.

Now there are three very distinct kinds or worry:

  1. Worrying about something you are going to make happen.
  2. Worrying about something else that might happen upon you.
  3. Worrying about something else that will happen upon you.

If we look at the first kind – think of that thing that you will not do, for fear of the consequence of doing it. You have to make it happen, or you strongly believe that you want to, but you worry about it going wrong. Well just think about it.

Really think about it. What are you waiting for – is anything actually holding you back, or are you holding you back?

Well it’s scary – nonsense. Everything is. Everything you have ever done is scary. You’ve just done it before, so it doesn’t seem scary to you anymore.

Well I’m unfamiliar with – ridiculous. You want things to be different, but for nothing to change?

Well if it goes wrong – stupid. A lot of things go wrong – a lot of things happen differently from how you anticipated them to go, and that’s okay. It got you to where you’re most proud of today.

The fact of the matter is, you can not do it, and wish that you did it. Or do it, and wish that you didn’t. And every good story I have ever told starts with a variant of “I shouldn’t have done that.” when in fact I did.

We’re so afraid of what is broken, ugly and messy that we’re unwilling to break our cycle of boring constancy. Doing the same things, with the same people because we worry. Usually it’s about what people will think of us, how they will react. But it was Olin Miller who said it best, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”

One day, you’ll lie old and grey, and you’ll tell people of all the things you did. Most likely when you did the thing, you can justify why you did it. Most likely when you didn’t do it, all you’ll say is that you wish you had.

But when it comes down to it, the reason we hate the first kind of worry is because we don’t want to live with things worse than we have it now. If we never had it, then we wouldn’t miss losing it. But if we make a mistake now we might lose it and that just might be difficult to live with.

But do you really want to live a life, where nothing ever improves, because you were afraid it might get worse? The only thing stopping you is you. Get out of your way.

Now what about the second kind, the things that might happen to you. You’re worried you might be drifting from that group of friends or they’re actively pushing you out. Or your workload is ramping up and you’re not sure you can handle it. What if you’re not moving as fast as you thought you would be by now? All I can say to you then, is that odds are, everything will okay. It might take time, it might be uncertain for a while. But it will most likely be okay. The odds that your Earth will be completely shattered tomorrow are not very likely. Think – on a purely personal statistical basis, how many times has the thing you were worrying about actually came to fruition? If the answer is less than 100%, then don’t waste your time on thinking about such things. You’re guess is as much good as chance.

And finally there are things we worry about that WILL happen, of which there are few. You’re worried you will get fat. You’re worried politicians are becoming corrupt. You’re worried that a peer is performing better than you at this current time. You’re worried that you’ll die.

To that I say, you will get fatter, but you can reverse it just with a little extra work. Your weight fluctuates over the years. You’re perfectly fine the way you are for now, because you want to be. Politicians will corrupt, but they always have been. Don’t concern yourself with it, because it probably will never change. Sometimes you’ll do better than your friends, sometimes they will do better than you – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just be happy for them, and have faith that in turn they will reciprocate. And finally to the last morbid point – unfortunately you will die. Everyone, everything does.

But if you’re dead then what will there be to worry about?

You’re dead.

You should be no more afraid of dying, than you should be afraid of what was before you were born. Literally, everything you have ever worried about is gone – to you. Everything will be okay. Once you’re gone, so is everything, everything to ever be worried about. So just make sure you have one hell of a time while you are here, that you have plenty of stories to tell on your way out. Don’t spend that time worrying.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life, and worry that you never did anything with it.

So with that being said, what are you worrying about? If you worry, you’ll die. If you don’t worry, you’ll still die.