After the Fact: One thing after another


It happened to be on the same “Pinterest” page as “How to make birdhouses from milk jugs” (crafts for my great-grandsons who will be coming to visit). I had time on my hands, so I browsed through “Things you can control.” It was another of those improbable lists that you’ve forgotten before you look at the next suggestion, “8 things to do by 8 a.m.” (first on my list would be “get out of bed”) or “7 things to do on Sunday for a more productive week” (“get out of bed”).

Mind you, I didn’t really look into these topics, but the titles were enough entertainment to get me through a second cup of morning coffee. “5 types of lists you should be using every day.” And “How to get unstuck in life.” My very favorite was “How to get s*** done even when you have zero motivation.” 

Why would I pay attention to any of these lists when the only list that matters in my life is the one I leave on the coffee table when I go to the grocery store. That would be the grocery list.

While I can’t remember the class, I do remember reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. In my opinion, the only thing effective about it was that the author convinced a publishing house to put it into print. But the contents don’t matter here as much as the title. Why are people attracted to “shortcuts” as “7 Habits”? Being an effective person takes a lot more than a few “habits” the reader thinks might easily be incorporated into an already-adult personality. And why stop at seven? Why not 10 or 12 or 25? If someone promised that you could lose five pounds by eating “these three foods,” would you run to City Market to buy eggs, hot dogs and bananas?

Age is just a number, I’ve been told. That’s akin to saying “it’s just air” as your plane plummets, nose first, toward the ground below. We can hardly wait to be 16 (the first drivers’ license) or 18 (voting) or 21 (beer), but everything after that is pretty much downhill. We go from “I’m almost 8 or 9 or 10” to “I’m 21” (with your sister’s i.d.) to “send my Social Security check to (address)” in what seems like nanoseconds. Jack Benny (if you don’t know him, you’re obviously not collecting social security either) stopped at 39.  My grandfather stopped at 39 “because what’s good enough for Jack Benny is good enough for me.” It’s tacky to be older than your own grandparent, so, if you have to ask, I’m 39.

It doesn’t take much to teach you that space is relative, if only learning how many toys you can fit under your bed when mom wants the bedroom “cleaned” but the relativity of time is more perplexing. Any day at the office is longer than the whole weekend. Then you retire and spend lots of time wondering what to do every day. You look at the clock, and it’s only 10 minutes since the last time you checked. After all, time is just another bunch of numbers. Unless you’re sitting in a doctor’s waiting room and have forgotten to bring something to read (seniors will whip out their cell phones only in desperation.)

My friend Judy Crisco is a whiz when it comes to remembering numbers. I doubt she’s looked at a phone book since the rotary dial was replaced with buttons. While I was a whiz at math, I can’t remember numbers. I’ve had this particular cell phone/service for 3 or 4 months, and still cannot give you the number if you ask. By the time I’ve learned what this number is, I’ll have lost the phone and will have to start all over again, so what’s the point? Maybe I should go back to Pinterest to read about “The Things You Can Control.”

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