If you didn’t allow your mind to block you, to obstruct you from moving outside your comfort zone, from doing something out of the ordinary, from taking a risk, a leap into the unknown, what would you truly be capable of?
If you’re not afraid, it’s usually not important, or not worth the risk.
If it scares you, do it. It’s the only way you’ll grow.
She sat on the balcony every morning among the plants
breathing in the morning dew and fresh air. It felt nice being outdoors, even
if this was on the third floor of a city-centre apartment. This was her ‘outside’.
The days passed calmly, as they do for an indoor cat.
But there was one day when something extraordinary happened.
Her housemates left early in the morning to “run errands”, as
they told her. They reassured her they would be back soon as they had left
their food baking in that square thing in the kitchen that heated up real fast
and they called an ‘oven’.
It was hot that day. She realised it, as there was no fresh
air, not even in the shade provided by the plants.
And all of a sudden, it happened.
Black smoke began filling up the house and causing an
increasingly suffocating atmosphere.
She found it hard to breathe and snuck further behind the
pots of the leafiest of plants. It didn’t work much, as the smoke intensified
and there was a pungent smell that hurt her nostrils.
After a while, she heard commotion, but it wasn’t from
inside the house. Her housemates had not yet returned.
And then, the sirens. Loud and shrieking, piercing her ears.
The door breaking open and five tall men, dressed heavily
with helmets and bearing a long rubber hose that began to shoot out water. Voices
shouting at all tones all at once, people moving in and out of the house,
staring at her hiding behind the pots.
The smoke dispersed but the smell remained. She tried to go
into the house to see who these people were and what happened, and that was
when her housemates arrived and she could hear their voices break with agony.
One of them picked her up and clenched her in her arms. She
said it was to reassure her that everything was all right and she was grateful
nothing had happened to her. But the black cat knew that the hug served more as
a comfort for her housemate, to loosen the tension and calm her nerves.
She had survived a fire.
To her housemates, she was the luckiest cat alive.
It was snowing when he set foot outdoors. If it was up to
him, he wouldn’t have, but his mother forced him to go out in search of the
required groceries for lunch. He was the sort of person who always found
excuses not to do something. He would constantly say he wanted to but it was simply not possible because of a series of pretexts
he would cough up at the moment.
Procrastinating was Tommy’s expertise. But as he matured, he
found that there were things you could simply not postpone. And the less you
did, the more reliable you would become and the better status you would obtain
as a person and as a character.
But the most memorable lesson, he learnt in a cabin in the
woods that day he went off-track.
It was a wooden cabin below the snowy mountains. Adjacent
was a lake in which two magnificent swans were found. It seemed almost mythical.
He approached in hope it would offer solace from the extreme cold.
Above the front door there was a sign that read “When there’s a will there’s a way, when
there’s none there’s delay”. He
knocked on the door and waited. Then he knocked again. There was no response.
After a while, as his hands began to turn numb from the
cold, he decided to search for a back door.
There was one with an “entry”
Inside was a carpenter. One of the type he had only read
about in storybooks.
“It took you long
enough,” he told Tommy as he led him to a seat near the blaring fireplace
and offered him a cup of steaming hot tea.
“Had you figured out
the meaning of the sign sooner, your hands wouldn’t have turned so pale from
the frostbite,” the carpenter explained.
“Simply stating your
desire or intention to do something does not make it real. It’s when you act
upon it that it happens. And that is what matters. Because others can’t see
your intentions, they can only judge you by your actions”.
Tommy was beginning to understand. This meeting was not by
chance. In fact, he had never seen this cabin in this part of the valley
“Stop denying the fact
that you’re delaying things. Or simply not doing them. The time to act is now,
not later. You don’t know what will happen later on. If you can do something
now, why are you waiting? What for? There is always time to do something
important. To show others you care. If
you can act, and if you’re going to use your intention in your defence later
on, why procrastinate? If it is significant, you do it. That is what others
will see. And what matters most, is what you show”.
Tommy drank his last sip and was ready to leave.
There was nothing he could say. After all, this meeting was
not for him to speak, but to listen.
“Character is built on
the strength of your actions”, he heard the carpenter say as he waved him
There is something we all at some point find ourselves doing: seeking the answers we search not in ourselves but in someone else. Because it is much easier to ask others what to do and how to do it rather than try to figure it out ourselves. It is faster and simpler to have others solve the problem instead of finding the way to do it ourselves.
That is why when we find “inspirational” people there is always someone who asks the question of “what should I do” or “how should I do [something] to become like you”? The best answer a truly influential person can give is “go out and act and stop asking me about it”.
No-one can really provide you all the answers you look for. There is no pre-defined right-or-wrong solution to everything that goes on in your head. Plus the responses you may get may very often not fit with your perspective. Or put simply, they may not be what you want to hear.
The best thing is to stop delaying and procrastinating so much. We blame our fallible human nature, our indecisiveness, even our OCD, but deep down there is something else: the fact that we may not want it as much as we believe. Because if we truly wanted something we would do anything we could to achieve it. We wouldn’t over-analyse. We wouldn’t go around asking. We would find ways to act.
We tend to complain. A lot. And the ‘we’ goes to the human species. Because no other animal has the tendency to complain, whine or nag as much as we do.
We often complain so much because we’re too afraid to act. We fear that we might not be able to change circumstances, that there is nothing we can do to make things better. We complain because we don’t believe enough in our own strength and capabilities.
Then again, we too often complain because we feel we deserve better.
We nag because we want things to be done a certain way, usually different to the current one, and we are irritated and agitated if this does not coincide with the notion in our minds.
Motivational speech includes prompts to stop complaining and appreciate things more. To be willing to change and adopt a more positive aspect on life. After all, aren’t optimists the ones who see the glass half-full and a silver lining in everything?
Complaining places you in the position of a victim as it is a sign you do not have control of a situation. It also causes you to waste (valuable) time. Instead, “champions never complain; they are too busy getting better” (John Wooden).
But in the end it all comes down to how good you feel within you and about yourself.
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything”.
Hyperactivity is neither a blessing nor a curse. Because, while there are days when you feel so lazy you can’t even drag yourself out of bed or off the coach, there are other days when you simply cannot stay still. I don’t know what is worse.
When Julie got up this morning she beat her alarm clock to the buzz. Of course, the thump she made when she dropped out of bed was much more painful than any sound any clock could make. Her morning cleansing – makeup – dressup ritual lasted the usual 25 minutes, and then she set off for all the errands she had to do. Her list was extra-long this day and every time she found herself on the commute, she somehow managed to keep extending it.
So Julie spent the entire day running around from one part of the city to the next (making her realise how big this city truly is), up and down office buildings, in and out of shops (there is always something to buy), and constantly craving certain food that she had no time to sit down and enjoy (sushi and ice cream being among these).
At the end of the day, when the sun had already began its descend, Julie arrived home with her feet already developing blisters, and feeling that she had carried a hundred tonnes on her shoulders all day. A warm shower simply worsened the situation as she kept thinking of all the things she still had to do the next day and the day after that. Messages kept arriving that further extended her list and the hyperactivity would appear to never cease.
The only thing that rescued her was a remedy that seemed to work since her college years: a glass of milk (not necessarily warm). Within half an hour, Julie was already drifting asleep, dozing off in a stress-free dream, suddenly making everything seem like an action movie where the good guys always win, and all was well with the world.
The problem with being indecisive is that you don’t know what to do. It’s normal when you are faced with a tough decision that will affect your life. But when it concerns a seemingly easy decision, like for example what ice cream flavours to choose, then it becomes a problem, particularly because by the time you finally make up your mind, the ice cream parlour has closed and you are left with no ice cream.
Or for example when you go out to shop one thing and see a million others that you would like to purchase. Not being able to decide instantly means you end up with a large shopping spree and an often (over)charged credit card. Sometimes even without that one thing you had gone to buy in the first place.
However, things change when there are important decisions to make, such as where you want to live, for example, or what you want to do with your life. Lack of determination means you are forced to cohabitate with a confusion constantly stirring inside of you; one day it will erupt and it won’t be pretty.
Indecision is a torment. They say it is preferable to make a decision, no matter how wrong it may turn out to be, rather than not take any action at all. When you lurch from indecision to doubt of whether you’ve taken the right decision, to changing your mind, and eventually never deciding, you are in essence living in a nightmare, where in the end you end up exhausted by the internal struggle that is wearing out your psyche.
It is actually harder than it seems to make decisions, maybe that is why policy-makers are so highly paid – they have to decide for the fate of so many people. It takes strength, courage and a bit of audacity to state a choice and stand by it. It takes even more boldness to decide on something and then make it the right decision.
Luke was broken-hearted. Not because of love lost, but because of love not found. He felt alone, fighting against the waves in a boundless ocean during a storm. There were days when he even felt his heart stop and his lungs as heavy as a rock, obstructing him from taking the slightest of breaths.
Luke was alone. And every so often he felt a void in his soul, like that little crack on the sill under the window he used to stare out of. Wind would gush in through it and stir a chill in an otherwise tepid room. It was strange. But yet refreshing. Sometimes even exhilarating.
He had to move on though. Staying still was not an option. And it would simply make that crack inside of him grow larger.
Luke decided he would try to mend that gap. And he would start by that crack at the window that was bugging him for years now.
He got up, put on his hat and strode off to the market down the street.
He knew everyone in the neighbourhood. Maybe that was the problem, though. There was nothing new. Nothing seemed to evolve. It was a repetition of the day all over, every day. And it was simply…boring. To him it was a sign of stagnation, a lack of progress. And something needed to change. Radically.
He bought some stock to mend the crack and some plaster, in case that didn’t work.
In less than an hour, the crack was gone. Or so it seemed. At least it was no longer visible. Not entirely. As to how long it would last…that was a different tale. But Luke had made the effort. And he was determined to now fix the part inside of him that was broken.
He was going to leave. No matter what that old fortune-teller had told him. He was going to take that step. After all, he would never know unless he tried.
Also part of the Trifecta Writing Challenge – the prompt word was CRACK:
3a : a narrow break : fissure <a crack in the ice>
b : a narrow opening <leave the door open a crack><cracks between floorboards> —used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out <a player who fell through the cracks in the college draft> <children slipping through the cracks of available youth services>