Stop frittering and make a plan

Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

June 13, 2016

Fritter is perhaps an old fashioned word (except for those yummy apple fritters). That is sad because it is what so many of us do with our lives.

It is that feeling that creeps up at the end of the day when you are lying in bed trying to get to sleep and the nagging realization seeps in that your day, or at least part of it, has been wasted.

I call it squirrel time. My mind starts to chatter and chatter and chatter. Almost always the thoughts are negative, blasting myself for not doing this or that. This guarantees that once again I will not get the proverbial good night's sleep.

Fritter also happens at stop light time. That red light too often allows us to drift off into a daydream. Usually it is a blast from the driver behind that startles us, and we automatically step on the gas, never stopping to see who or what is in danger from our hurtling car.

That fritter state of mind can happen just when we are driving. We are usually shocked when we arrive somewhere and have absolutely no recollection of driving there. Gulp.

We could have almost nailed that elderly pedestrian in the crosswalk or not pulled over and slowed down for a screaming ambulance or fire truck.

The current life debate hitting the headlines is making me mindful of life itself. While legislators and their backers believe it is OK to have a physician help them snuff out their life, many of us are squandering this gift.

Easy excuses come readily to our lips. The main one for me is "My life is out of my control."

Then I remember a Los Angeles police lieutenant's words of advice: "Identify the power you do have. Then use it."

Ever the student, I have turned to the exercise book and pen to help solve my frittering.

The exercise book is a hard-cover lined paged book ($3 from the Dollar Store). The covers are colourful, the book easy to use.

Next comes identifying my power.

Basically, it is the use of my time. Each of us has that commodity. Our lives usually dictate how we use it. But my contention is too much of our time is wasted.

A phrase from my Grade 13 Latin authors class tumbles back into my mind. Carpe diem. Horace, a Roman poet, probably had no idea his phrase would become a pop saying.

Easily translated it is "Seize the day." (Strictly translated though "pluck" would replace "seize.") Enjoy the moment.

In other words, don't fritter your life away.

This hit me as I heard stories from the lips of those fleeing the Fort McMurray beast fire. Minutes mattered. Evacuation orders left no seconds for dawdling.

Photos, precious articles and even pets were left behind.

Anguish.

WHAT'S YOUR PLAN?

Another jolt came when I was recently chatting with a fellow journalist. "So what is your plan?" he asked.

Gulp. Until that moment I had none. Message received. Went home and cracked open a new exercise book, and I now have the beginnings of a working model for life.

All this urging for discipline and using our moments judiciously does not mean we should cancel daydreaming from our agendas.

Absolutely not.

It's dreams that allow us to create those plans. However, there is the need to specify a timeslot for my gambol into the unconscious.

Being mindful, present for the minutes of our life, means being aware of our surroundings.

Hearing the warble of the robin as dawn chases the night away. Pausing to smell the fragrance of the early blooming rose.

SEIZE PRECIOUS MOMENTS

Seizing those precious moments takes strategy. The best I have come across so far in this hurried life comes from a wise colleague. He told of hearing this from a successful business man.

The first thing every day he sat down and for one half hour he decided three things he wanted to accomplish before day's end.

With those goals written down, staring him in the face, he began his morning. Sure there were a few stumbles in the beginning. The greatest hindrance came from fellow workers who would wander in and want to chat.

Once he explained to everyone the beginning of his day was sacrosanct, they backed off. In fact, some adopted the goal-winning strategy themselves.

Me? I have two notebooks - one for work, one for home. Great strategy.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)