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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM DECEMBER 2009
Please pardon the indulgence as I use this edition to wrap up another gift for the past year.
Your tolerance for the corny, seemingly trite nature of much of what is to follow is appreciated. Year-end reflections, at least for me, typically and uncontrollably lead there. I suspect a greater force is nudging me, but what do I know.
The inventory of days we are given is an unchangeable, customized present from the same “Nudger” I mentioned above, which seems infinite, especially in our younger days. However, as we enjoy, experience, and expend time, we begin to realize and acknowledge its finite component. But that is a good thing. True value and joy often depend on a clear and definite ending. Does anyone really care to see “Rocky VII, The Depends Years” or “Friday the 13th, Part ∞ in 3-D Smell-A-Vision”? Not me…and not even for a free box of Junior Mints and a $6 coke. (I’m from Louisiana, around here, all sodas/soft drinks are called coke, sorry.)
Imagine how unmotivated we would be if our time were truly limitless. There would be no driving force, no urgent reason to excel, now or ever for that matter. I am frequently guilty of procrastination, and carelessness would be the common and logical modi operandi (MO).
Back to the art of recognizing and valuing time and opportunity. A very entertaining, hilarious, and astute comedian/monologist, Rick Reynolds, so clearly simplified this for me that I think others might benefit from the consumption of the analogy and the underlying, undeniable truth therein. Oddly enough, he is a self-proclaimed obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, self-righteous avowed atheist. It is odd because regardless of how often I re-listen to his one-man shows, I inevitably find myself closer to my Creator, more appreciative of others, especially my wife, my children, and my parents, and compelled to behave with a greater degree of compassion.
Anyway, please enjoy my summary of Rick’s thought-provoking words, and may it lead you to a place where you are better for having been there.
Have you ever watched a movie or started some activity that required specific but simple attention while contemporaneously scarfing down a bag of Nacho Doritos or devouring a rack of Oreo cookies? If you answered no and are not medically prohibited from such behavior, you should return to your home planet and try it, and don’t come back without fluorescent orange fingers and/or the dreaded Oreo smile.
For the other 99.9% of us earthlings, I’ll continue.
It is easy to remember the first Oreo because it is new and fresh, and the attention we give it establishes the value that a first cookie deserves. We savor the chocolatey, creamy, crunchy, sweet results of the first bite. Dunkers opt for a delicious union of cookies and milk in a single nosh. Others are more technical and are compelled to separate the treat into its component parts for a more mechanical exercise. Regardless, the value of the first cookie is apparent because we effectively and purposefully deem it so. Cookie #2 is also tasty and enjoyable, but not as clearly or obviously. As we continue, the subsequent treats, identical in every way except sequence, become less and less memorable.
What happens to cookie #7 or #17 that reduces its perceived value when compared to cookie #1?
The answer is wholly unquantifiable but absolutely discoverable. The progressive cookie devaluation is the by-product of habit, frequency, and cognitive laziness. We simply pay less attention to cookie #17. We elect to pay attention to other things and less, if any, attention to the successful cream-filled delights. There is no other rational explanation.
Now, imagine that you are so enthralled with and into your movie that you reach for another nugget of bliss only to discover that you have unknowingly consumed the LAST cookie… there are no more. You have sacrificed, nay, wasted the only opportunity for that serious last cookie enjoyment, the only thing comparable to or more enjoyable than the first bite experience. The non-attention and failure to recognize limits resulting in a cookie catastrophe of gargantuan proportions. What the hell is the matter with me…I mean you…I mean them?
I know it’s just a cookie, but if you substitute a more important scenario into the analogy, like a wedding or mitzvah, you can appreciate the importance of acknowledging and assigning value to every opportunity and giving them the requisite attention. We are fortunate to be given opportunities to facilitate a bride’s one and only chance to share a special dance with her father on her wedding day or coordinate a young Barmitzvah’s singular opportunity to acknowledge the people he loves publicly. Those are unique opportunities that deserve attention and are worthy of universal appreciation.
For those who choose to accept a role in the milestone events of others, the recognition of these limited opportunities can be an asset that sets us apart and ahead of our competition and a source of personal pride and inspiration.
As Deuce-double ought-niner approaches completion, remember to attack your 2010 opportunities with unselfish attention and purpose. In other words, “Eat every cookie as though it were the last.”
PS Merry Christmas!
Rocky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org