The Blog

Not everyone’s meant to be a parent.

Before you decide you aren’t, I hope you’ll watch this video!

Learning JourneysWhat if everyone found work they love? Who would do the boring jobs? Who would flip the burgers, clean the office buildings, take the tickets when you board the train?

That’s one reason I loved Learning Journeys. One contributor to that book, Charles Garfield, was heading for lunch in San Francisco when he heard loud rock music coming from a tollbooth as he approached. Inside, a man was dancing. Garfield wondered why. The man said he was having a party.

Garfield asked why none of the others were dancing. “They’re not invited,” the operator said. Traffic cut this conversation short, but Garfield tracked the gentleman down later to ask him more questions. The man described other tollbooths as vertical coffins. Not his. He was going to be a dancer someday, and his bosses were paying for his training. Eventually the two had lunch, and the man said he didn’t understand why anyone thinks his job is boring. He has a corner office with glass on all sides, and a great view of San Francisco.

Boring, it seems, is in the eye of the job holder!

When I was in the first grade there was a rule we couldn’t have candy at our desks. Unless someone had a birthday, that is. If that child brought treats to share, no problem.

One day I was back at school after missing the previous day because I was sick. When I opened my desk I almost got sick again. Candy! “Oh, no,” I thought. “I am in so much trouble.” It didn’t occur to me someone had a birthday the day I was gone and didn’t want to leave me out of the fun. I was too busy contemplating the punishment that awaited.

That’s where this story ends. I can’t remember what happened. All I remember is being terrified.

And, you know, thank heavens.

Right? Doesn’t remembering those little-kid fears make you a better grownup? You’re less likely to bash someone who’s afraid of the dark, of spiders, of strangers who show a troublesome amount of interest. And when you’re finished cutting your sweethearts the requisite slack for whatever they’re afraid of, I hope you do the same for yourself.

It’s never too late to have a chat with the child you once were. Tell her what you would’ve liked to have heard, then -- so you can be a better version of the person she’s becoming, now.

A while back a woman I barely know gave me a heaping helping of advice for getting a project off the ground. I could hardly believe it. I wondered if anyone in my life had been more generous with me. She singlehandedly renewed not only my faith in the project, but my ability to pull it off.

I sent her a little thank-you present as an appetizer for more thanks later, and before I knew it she was on the phone with thanks for that.

So far, so good.

Then she asked if I’d made any progress. I was so happy to report I’d done everything I could’ve done -- according to her -- by that point. Oh, sure. The real work was about to begin in a couple of weeks, but I’d be ready when that started.

After we said goodbye it hit me. What if I wouldn’t have had anything to show for myself at that point? The best way to thank people for their advice, after all, is to take it. You reward someone for seeing your potential by delivering on it.

Suddenly I’m accountable to someone, and that’s okay. That’s what friends are for.

The squirrel just outside our window was clutching a clump of ice, dancing from icy branch to icy branch in what looked like a quest to find the perfect spot for a picnic. There was something dark inside the ice. An acorn, perhaps? Ah, yes. It must be!

What a picture. Those icy branches were sparkling so brightly in the sunlight it was as if they were coated in diamonds. More amazing, to me, was that I was taking this in at all. It was just a random Thursday. Shouldn’t I have been working?

Being distracted by a squirrel is amusing, considering “squirrel!” is shorthand for “distracted.”

I regret nothing.

You know how it goes. On vacation -- or at least, in the evening or over a weekend -- you think nothing of taking in, really lingering on, the wonders of nature. In between, not so much.

My little buddy reminded me there’s never a bad time to give thanks for your surroundings, for the privilege of being here at all.

TetrisI once met someone who didn’t like playing Tetris, not the way I do. I’d watched him play the occasional game, and once it started to unravel -- which is, you know, always -- the verdict was always the same. He was getting “bad pieces.”

Oh, sure. Maybe he was kidding.

I don’t think he was kidding. I loved the guy, but this explained a lot.

I think of it often when I’m (you guessed it) playing Tetris. I treat myself to at least one game before I go to sleep, and it’s as important to me as brushing my teeth. I love sharpening my reflexes. It’s fun. And it’s great practice making decisions.

That’s what you’re doing, right? You’re making decisions. The faster the pieces fall, the better at making decisions you have to be just to stay in the game.

Don’t have to look far for the life lesson in that one!

Many years ago someone Darrell interviewed called him back a while later and wanted to do it over.

We’d never had that happen before, and I was enchanted. Haven’t we all been in situations like that, wishing we could have another crack at something? This gentleman did something about it, which was refreshing.

I got on the phone with him after Darrell did the do-over, to tell him what I just told you.

We spend much of our lives trying not to bother people. But what if they’re happy to give you a second chance at a great first impression? It would be a shame not to at least ask, don’t you think?

Ever stub your toe or whatever and, as you’re writhing in pain, decide you’d just been doing something wrong and are now being punished for it? I have. Every time something like that happens, as a matter of fact. It’s a reflex.

It’s kind of sad, actually. But typical.

I used to feel guilty when something terrible happened to people I love. As silly as it sounds, I just had this feeling it should’ve been me and not them.

Until very recently I’d start every workday with pangs of guilt for not starting earlier. “What a loser!” I’d think. “No wonder you don’t have more to show for yourself!”

The other day I decided to keep the conversation going. “Why is it often early afternoon before you start doing the so-called real work?” That’s easy. I do what I dread most, first. The housework, the workouts, the meal prep, whatever.

Of course it’s often one or even two o’clock in the afternoon before I get started on anything more substantial. But I can’t remember the last time I didn’t go until at least eleven at night.

Many if not most people who keep more traditional hours, at more traditional offices, do their workouts and housework and meal prep in the evenings. I’ve had that life. I hated it.

I do my days upside down, that’s all. What’s the use of having some control over your schedule if you don’t take advantage of it?

Which brings me back to the stubbed toe. What’s the use of having some control over your interpretation of events if you don’t take advantage of it? Why not just give thanks the toe stopped hurting in short order, and leave it at that?