A Preponderance of Certainty
Many, many years ago, probably in the eyes of some even before time began, I used to call on my friends to see if they wanted a game of football, or listen to the latest album I’d bought (which was generally prominently displayed under my arm in a way that cabinet ministers now carry secret papers they want to world to see as they bounce into Downing Street enthusiastically and apparently in whole and total ignorance of the deliberate exposure they are pretending isn’t happening). That was how I lived my early life and early to mid-teenage. I was almost never in the house.
I would walk either a few hundred yards up the road or about half a mile to one of their houses, and they would be either in or out. It was accepted that not every call had a positive outcome. If they were in they were in. If they weren’t, we’d either find someone else, go on a bike ride, or carry the album back home and play it again. Mobile technology has increased exponentially the probability of someone being in when you call, because it allows us to check first. Unless something urgent or dreadful happens between sending a text or media message and arriving at their front door, you will be able to have that game of football or play that album. But isn’t there something really dull about certainty?
To qualify that, certainty may be the key ingredient for good business but when you get home from work you can take your socks off and put your feet up, and stop thinking about that shit. Part of life has always been that it should flow by you, so you can relax, do things in your own time, recharge your batteries, meditate, enjoy the people you are doing it all for. That way you are better able a) to do the shit you have to do and b) cope with its stresses and challenges. The only true certainty in life is death!
If you stretch elastic far enough it will snap. That’s how you should look at your life. You only have what you have, your body and your mind. So you have to protect it from becoming overburdened. This, by the way, is very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and from someone who is in a position where I no longer need to work. I’m also someone who has regularly been under extreme stress, but much of it has been of my own making. You reap what you sow. It’s only now I’m in my sixties that I can see the value of the stuff I learned on a Time Manager International course when I was half this age. It preached (in a fun and agnostic kind of way) that work was only part of life, and that’s what it has now come to mean.
Back in the day, I didn’t think twice about walking half a mile to see a friend, even if he wasn’t in. I would walk much farther to see my girlfriends, generally around three miles, and they were sometime out too – I know, maybe I wasn’t getting the message! It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford the bus, more that I would much rather spend my money on beer and records, which was also perhaps a reason why the girls were not in when I called. It was normal, un-taxing exercise and it was done every day, just as I used to walk to and from school when the weather wasn’t vile.
I used to do all my thinking when I was walking to my various destinations. It cleared my head of clutter so I was generally switched on for a good day or evening on the majority of occasions when I arrived somewhere to find people at home. The most stressful job I’ve ever had was in the early to mid 1990s when for three years I had to put calming classical music on the radio for my 50 minute drive to work. It helped me to deal with the fascist, meat head bully of a Sales Director, and I was the only one who would stand up to him. Not brave. Just very necessary. I would leave work every day feeling like every nerve in my body was inflamed. One day I went to see the doctor. I wasn’t even sure why. I told him I was low on energy and couldn’t sleep and… and… “I eat my sandwiches at my desk while I’m still working Doc”. He told me very firmly what I already knew. I should get out at lunch and go for a walk. It helped for the period between then and when I left for another job a few months later.
They call it social media, but I’m afraid I see it as one of the most anti-social developments of my 60 years. A complete misnomer. It’s got so bad on this small island that people rarely phone each other, let alone drop round for coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I think the principle of social media is fabulous, but we human beings obsess about the fabulous and can’t leave it alone, to the point where it becomes functional rather than fabulous. However, it has also been a massive boon to people who live in remote communities. So once in a while, leave your device at home when you go and see a relative or friend. Your attention will be on what is important not the thing we have become conditioned to think is important. If they aren’t in, find someone who is, or walk back home and play some great music!