Monthly Archives: February 2015

The impact of now

aboutUS TIM


The impact of now 

Let me be blunt and say up front, if you’re born to parents who are 5 feet tall, it is likely you’ll only be five feet tall. Unless one of your ancestors was much taller, you’ll not be much different.

Much of what we inherit in physical terms is fixed. However what a five foot person can do is remarkable. Given the right environment, opportunities and drive, this person can achieve outstanding things. Much of our ability has a limit. Not necessarily the ones that we think though.  An obvious limit is that we couldn’t last long in space without a life support system.  Or we couldn’t re-grow a limb that has been cut off or build a pyramid on our own in a day.

However, the accumulation of training and adapting could allow us to last 5 minutes or more under water, we could use a prosthetic limb so well that others wouldn’t notice we were without a leg or a skilled site manager could arrange for a damn to be built in less than a year without having lifted a brick or poured a bucket of concrete. Why then, does someone with developed skills make life seem so much easier? The lazy do as little as possible, then blame everyone else.

Accumulation of skills took us from apes to rulers of this planet. Even with basic skills a child can survive in a West African slum where life is cheap.

Jon has been a good friend of mine for many years and is a very intelligent man. His love of music took him to the heights of knowledge in band culture and themed music that many of his friends admired. He had a passion for getting to know every record, band member, song writer and musician that fit his range of taste. His accumulated knowledge was outstanding. People would contact him for information and opinions. People who worked in the same industry who should have known it all and were paid to do so, called Jon for advice and tips and confirmation of history. He is a legend. That knowledge and passion served him well and he knew he would always be able to learn more and this spurred him on.

However, he smoked heavily, ate poorly, drank too much, rarely exercised and despised personal hygiene habits a bit too much.

His wife mentioned these things to him but of course he was more interested in music than anything else.

We will get back to him later, but can you predict an outcome?

The idea of time travel exists in our minds quite strongly. Have you ever wished you could go back to a certain point in you r life and do things differently?  The outcome would be extraordinary. One small change could alter every ones lives so much that our current future would be unrecognisable.

We all wish we could go back and change things, but thankfully that’s not possible. If we could it would be a chaos that could never be resolved. It’s because we can’t that we should ensure we take greater and greater notice of what’s happening now.

If I could go back to when I was 12, I would tell myself to leave the sweets alone. Brush and floss my teeth three times a day and avoid a certain girlfriend who ended up getting me beat up! That alone would be worth the trip. But if I could live my life over from that point on knowing what I know now it would change so much that my life would be different to such an extent that I could cause chaos and be very unhappy.

That’s why now is so important.

That’s why today is your greatest gift. It is the present.  Realising that makes you powerful, decisive, healthy, rich and wise. If you met yourself 20 years from now, what would you be saying to yourself. What advice would you give YOU? What would you tell yourself to change about what you’re doing now? There is the answer. You know what you’d say. You just don’t act upon it. Why? Because it’s too easy not to.

Lost time is never found again – Benjamin Franklin.

Going back to Jon, let me ask you. By the time he was 44 years old do you think you could describe his life? Obvious details are, health poor, over weight and quite smelly. The lesser health had slowed his learning down but not enough so you’d notice, but what of his wife. You guessed it, long gone. His kids? Never really knew him, His friends? Changed a lot over the years, mostly got fed up with his self-abuse and lack of anything but music to share with him that they just started to distance themselves from him.

Now here’s the very obvious question. Could any of this been foreseen?  Of course it could. So health issues are an accumulation issue. If you eat a mars bar a day instead of an apple a day then you will be different in 20 years’ time. Is it that easy? Yes. So why doesn’t it stop us from doing the self-defeating stuff. My only answers to date are firstly its easy not to do what you should or avoid the stuff you shouldn’t touch.  Secondly though, it’s a willingness to ignore the small stuff, which seems small at the time. The big stuff like whether you cheat on your partner or kill your neighbour after a row is a bit more immediate.

This is the crux of my point. It’s the distance between the event and the effect that causes the apathy. Because it is a long time between your first Mars bar and the doctor saying unless you cut down on the sweet stuff you’ll have a heart attack soon – we ignore the accumulation effect.

But it’s bigger than that. Our whole culture is built around what we can get away with. Once the Coalition forces liberated Iraq the mob element took over and looting became widespread to such an extent that they robbed the hospitals of all sorts of life saving equipment. I had a vision at the time of an ordinary Iraqi sitting in his breeze block whitewashed one bedroomed apartment with an incubator he’d just stolen from the hospital and thinking, what the heck do I do with this now? Group dynamics had taken over and he’d decided to go along and got carried away and stole the first thing he could get away with. He didn’t think at the time what shall I do with the incubator; he just thought I can get away with this.

It is hard to resist. You go to a hardware store and take five items to the till. The checkout girl misses one of the items off and you know it but pay the lower amount because you can easily blame her if you get caught. You’ve just saved yourself a few pounds and no one is the wiser. No risk no effort, just took advantage of the opportunity that arose. The accumulation effect has a long term view of course. This girl often made this mistake and just didn’t care if this happened even when she noticed she’d done it. This casualness became entrenched and happened in many areas of her life. One day she was too casual with her own young daughter at the river’s edge and the little girl fell in. Those lost seconds before she realised her mistake caused her daughter to drown.

The chap who got away with the item thought that next time he came in he’d try a few more expensive items and made a beeline for the same checkout girl. Of course given the same opportunity to miss a few items still in the trolley that should have been scanned it was easy to not bother. Our customer decided that this could be fun to try in all walks of life. Then having stolen from a jewellers a few years later, got caught. The criminal record set him back so far that he never held a decent job again.

All this is stupid when you consider that a few common sayings are wisdom enough. Like avoid the slippery slopes or casualness causes casualties. But we take no notice because we do not connect the event to the outcome based on the huge gap between the two. You know that flirting leads to infidelity. That lack of maintenance will cause your car engine to fail. But who cares let’s put it off or not do it anyway.

So if you want control of your life you need to focus on the now. Each moment of the now determines the future, so plan it and make use of it as if it were your last oxygen under water. Any seemingly insignificant event can cause a change reaction over time that impacts on your life massively. It’s our choices that help the outcome. Be careful of your choices. They make or break you.

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