I learned something recently:  “Don’t be so quick to judge.”  I know, I’m a slow learner.  Technically, I learned this lesson a long time ago. What I actually did was apply it to another situation.

A short while ago I was in a car accident.  Luckily, neither I or any of the other people involved were hurt.  The cars were another story.  The funny thing is that to many of the drivers that were delayed by the incident, it didn’t look like much.  What they didn’t see was that the entire rear frame of my car had been distorted so much that is was digging well into the rear tire.  The car that hit me was also undriveable.

As I waited for the tow truck to arrive and I watched vehicle after vehicle go slowly by, I learned to read lips and expressions.  When things were said, I read some swear words and the word “move” also came up.  A bit of anger and contempt, too.  There are signs around the city that remind drivers to move off the road for small collisions.  I couldn’t do that (I really wish I could have), but that was lost on the other drivers who were truly being inconvenienced by the accident.  They couldn’t tell that the car was a “write off”.

And, here is where the lesson comes in.  In the past, I have driven by other “small collisions” that I also thought should have resulted in the drivers moving to the side of the road.  I may have been right, but I now realize that I may also have been wrong.  (I can feel slightly good about not getting angry and cursing anyone — who wants to be in an accident?) At this collison everyone was calm and composed, that may not be the case for others.

So now, while I still agree that for small collisions drivers should move to side of the road, I don’t assume the collision is small and the drivers are able to move their vehicles.  It has also primed me to look at other areas of my life where I may be quick to judge.  And, while it has been very inconvenient and slightly expensive for me since the collision, I am grateful that I got to learn something without a more serious consequence.

Therefore, I will conclude with: drive safely and be nice to each other.

There is a Greek expression that roughly translates as, “One bean at time, the bag is filled.”  Recently, I tried this approach with some creative writing.  I have been very busy in my non-work hours, but I decided to write a short story.  It took a month, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Every day I made some progress and it gave me a little bit of joy until I finished.  Then, I had a lot of joy!

Going through this process made me admire the discipline of the English novelist Graham Greene.  Apparently, he wrote exactly 300 words each day.  Not 295 one day and 314 the next day.  He would even finish in mid-sentence.  (That would probably happen almost every day.)  It sounds a little excessive, but he did finish over 25 novels, so it is hard to criticize.  I don’t know what he thought about beans.

I drove by a school this evening and I noticed a new inspirational message.  On the flip side of a sign that mentioned parent teacher meetings and exam dates were the words, “SUCCESS IS THE ONLY OPTION.”  At first, I just sighed and wondered if there was only one option, doesn’t that mean there are no options.  And, did the person who put this message up think of these kind of things.  Then, I realized it was possible, as long as the students gave 110% of their total abilities.  Well, no need to worry about the future, everything is going to be fine.

Being sick sucks.

OK, there is nothing new about that statement. And, since it is the common cold that I’m getting over, I know that there are worst things that can happen to a person.  I haven’t lost sight of that, so I am grateful that it was just a cold.  Still, this cold muddled up my plans.  But, during my sickness I did get some unexpected encouragement.

On one of the days where I was coughing  quite a bit, I decided to try some lozenges.  Of course they didn’t cure my cold, but they temporarily reduced my coughing.  What was interesting was that the lozenge manufacturer has printed some upbeat slogans on the wrappers.  You can see them in the photo below.  My French is poor, but even looking at them in English, it appears one says, “Return to the arena, Champion!”  (The other one should be something like, “You know you can do it!”)

It may not be much, but it made me smile.  And it did make me want to return to the arena, at least to go skating or play hockey.  Hopefully everyone is happy and healthy, or will be real soon!

Halls Wrapper

Halls Wrapper

This is the second book by Richard Wiseman that I have read.  (The first one was “The Luck Factor”, a book I also recommend.)  I usually don’t find a book’s blurbs very helpful, but this one has one by David Eagleman that, after reading the book, I can say is accurate: “Imagine taking thousands of papers from the vast world of psychology and distilling them down to the most important, unexpected, salient, and straightforward lessons for how to live our lives.  That’s Wiseman’s book.”

A typical section starts with the author exploring and debunking some common myths.  He follows this up with discussions about scientific research on the topic.  This is followed by a “59 seconds” summary or call-to-action. Instead of giving a sample, below is a link to Richard Wiseman’s YouTube channel.  Some of the topics in the “59 Seconds” segments relate to other books he has written, but even with those you will get a feel for this book and I why I enjoyed it.

Richard Wiseman on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/In59seconds

Title: 59 Seconds

Sub-Title: Think A Little, Change A Lot

Author: Richard Wiseman

Publisher: Random House

Copyright: 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-35811-0

Website: http://www.randomhouse.ca/

The end of the year and the start of the year are great times to take a step back and look at your life.  (Birthdays, weddings and funerals are great, too.)

A while back, I came across this observation: within a few generations after your death, there will be no one alive who remembers you.  If you are in some manner famous, people will remember your name and stories about you, but none of it will be first hand and much of it may not be accurate.

At a public garden in Toronto, at the base of a crabapple tree, you will see a memorial plaque.  I took a photo of it:

Memorial Plaque

It is a nice sign and a great way to express gratitude for someone. It doesn’t matter if other people won’t ever know this woman and the people who did know her will one day gone.  That stuff doesn’t matter.  We all have the same challenge, to lead the best life we can.

I can already see that this year has the potential to be extra challenging when it comes to managing short-term goals with long-term goals, properly celebrating successes and effectively dealing with losses.  That’s life.  I wish everyone in the world (and the world really needs it right now) a healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

By the way, if you are looking at getting in a philsophical mood, I recommend taking  a walk by a pond.  It helps if there are ducks in the pond.  (The photo below is from a park near Lake Ontario; you can see the CN Tower in the background.)

Ducks-In-Pond

The photo below is a screenshot from The Weather Channel’s website earlier today. Somehow, this website believes I live in the Entertainment District of Toronto. But, that isn’t the biggest mistake. If you see the numbers beside “Feels Like”, you will see that this website is telling me that I better not go outside since it is about 300 degrees colder than absolute zero!!! It’s a good thing the furnace is working.

Weather Channel Screenshot showing that it feels like -572C

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