Author Archives: Francesca

You Can’t Stay Where You Were: Part One

Everything has changed: you know it, and everyone around you knows it, even though there may be some people that insist it’s all a fake. When people believed the world was flat, they acted as though it were, so it might as well be flat, until “suddenly” it was round. When people believe in something, they make it real. But here is the strange thing: stories are real. Everyone knows who Sherlock Holmes is, even though he never lived, really. Some people might say that he does, but for most of us, he’s just a character in several stories.

However, some of the things this imaginary person said are said by others. “Elementary.” “The game’s afoot.” “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” In this way, Sherlock Holmes is as alive as any other person: he is remembered, and people feel they can learn from him. So, you might say that it’s good to keep learning, even though the source is made up.

Memories are made up: what you remember happening to you once long ago isn’t happening to you now. This may seem obvious. But when you remember, again and again, how someone called you names, or hit you for no reason, or ordered you around, you are making that memory as real as some people make Sherlock Holmes! The trouble is, the same way you can’t shake Mr. Holmes’ hand, you can’t fix what happened in your memory by remembering it. You need to see the memory in a new way: this is the road you traveled, a long time ago, but it isn’t where you are now.

If you keep trying to go back into your memory to change things, you really can’t. You need to change what is going on now, and what is true now. The same way you can’t eat yesterday’s food, you can’t find something you lost in the past. You need to look for it now.

Watching Where You’re Looking

When you watch the things that happen around you or to you in your life, what do you watch for? Do you watch for things that will make you happy? Do you watch for things that will make you sad? Do you watch for things that will get you angry, or feel kind? This needs some real attention!

Yes, there are times when you don’t feel well: you’re sick, or you’ve just heard some bad news, or someone called you something cruel. Sometimes your emotions “think” for you: when you’re angry about something, you can’t help but look at what else makes you angry, or what else makes you feel sorry for yourself. Your emotions color your life, like looking through sunglasses. If the sunglasses you are wearing are bright orange, then you won’t be able to see the color blue very well, or green. That’s just the way it is.

But what is strange, and is something you have to remember, is that, having emotions is like wearing sunglasses. When you wear sunglasses long enough, your mind gets used to thinking that the colors you see are the colors that are really there. When you take the sunglasses off, you might suddenly realize that the color of the sky looks different, and that you can see the flowers in front of you much differently. Your emotions are like sunglasses: you can get so used to being angry, all the time, or sad all the time, that you think that this is the way your life really is. It takes practice to put your emotions aside so you can see the real colors of your life again.

Big Projects

There are always times when you suddenly have a big project you have to finish: you have homework from three teachers, you have a term paper due next week or you have to clean your room by the weekend and you haven’t done anything about anything for months. A lot of times when you see the big project you just stop: you freeze solid and can’t move forward at all. This does not help, and you know it, but somehow you just can’t start. Worse yet, you go off and do something easy for a while, maybe even a long while, and turn a huge project into an even more difficult project.

By wanting to step aside and do something easy you aren’t being bad but you do perhaps need more experience in things. One of the best things to remember about huge projects is the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Everything: every project, job of work, problem, snarled-up mess or whatever, is always made up of parts. Sometimes the parts of the problem seem to be glued together or like a mobile: you can’t tug on one part of it without making all the other parts move. That can certainly be frustrating! However, in cases like that you can ask for help from someone that has had a similar problem, experience or project.

If the project is not too hard, like cleaning your room or doing a term paper, you can either break it into areas or break it into parts. Say what you need is to get into your closet but your room is so full of junk that you can’t even open the folding door all the way, and it’s been like that since last Christmas. Doe it make more sense to just clear the floor in front of the closet and dump everything on the bed, including the extra stuff in the closet you don’t need? Sometimes that is the best way: cleaning by area. Or if it makes more sense to just clean up all the dirty clothes everywhere first, including the clothes under the bed, in the closet or whatever you have, then that’s the way you should do it.

It’s your project! You can do it any way that works. The only way you will fail is if you don’t do it.

Working together

In the old days in America, when a lot of people still had family farms, they used to have a saying: “Many hands make light work.” When you have other people helping you it does make things easier: there are some things you just can’t carry by yourself, or reach up high for by yourself either. It’s interesting and unusual too: sometimes when you have someone with you, it’s easier to do hard things because you feel like you have a friend beside you that makes the difficult work less scary.

However, you have to make sure that your friends understand that they are there for you: you are not there for them. Some will want to boss you around and tell you that they are only trying to help you. Well, in their minds they are, really: some people love to organize things even though they may not be their things; some like to have everything a certain way even though they don’t own everything, they can’t own everything, and certainly they shouldn’t own everything either. Sometimes they forget this and start trying to do what they want to do with their things, only it’s your things really.

You have to take such friends and ask them if they can do one job for you: organize one shelf or just arrange the books in your bookcase or just make sure all of your shoes have mates. You see: when you understand your friends, you can help them become a good work force by asking them to do things that they find easy because they are good at what needs to be done. This does take some thinking and planning! But that is part of working together: understanding each other first, even before the work begins.