Things We See Clear In Retrospect

A few months ago, I wrote about a great line from Stephen King’s book 11/22/63.

In addition to that line, I also jotted down another thought that stuck with me.

Stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”

In the story, King is writing about a sports bet that the main character shouldn’t have made. This bet makes him money, but it alerts the mob that he is back in town, which puts him in danger.

So in this case, the thing the character sees clearly is his stupid decision to make the bet. Only he doesn’t entirely realized it until it is too late. Thanks a lot hindsight.

I like this line especially based on my post from yesterday about the things we most regret in life. As King says, and Bronnie Ware’s experience with terminal patients has confirmed, missed chances stick with us. And they become more powerful as time goes on.

We see them clearly in retrospect and then we have a hard time getting over them. Even in our final days.

They say “hindsight is 20/20” as in perfect vision. But pre-hindsight (a term I think I just made up), aka the present, often feels like “50/50” as in the flip of a coin. In the moment taking a chance could lead to us looking stupid. There is no guarantee it will work out. But if we don’t try we could end with a missed chance.

Both will only become clear in hindsight. But as we read yesterday, only one do we think about on our deathbed.

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

I stumbled upon an article from DailyGood.org by Bronnie Ware titled, Top Five Regrets of The Dying. I just had to read it after seeing an attention-grabbing headline like that.

Ware worked for years with patients who had gone home to die. She was with the patients as they experienced a whirlwind of emotions, such as, “denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.”

Ware says, “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:”

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

In his book, Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert writes that people regret not taking action more than they regret taking action. Gilbert says this is because if we make a decision and it goes horribly wrong, we can still console ourselves by feeling that we learned a lesson. We tell ourselves that some good can come out of the bad decision.

But when we do not make a decision, or do not take action, we are not left with a lesson to be learned. All we are left with is regret and the question of what could have been.

Ware’s list of top regrets of the dying greatly reinforce Gilbert’s point. All five of the regrets are examples of not taking an action earlier in life.

1. Not taking action to live a life true to myself. 

2. Not taking time off from work.

3. Not being able to express my feelings.

4. Not staying in touch with my friends.

5. Not letting myself be happier.

Author Gretchen Rubin says that when faced with an important decision, “Later on, you might feel worse about not taking the risk at all, than you will about a risk that doesn’t succeed.”

If you ever start to doubt that fact, just take a look at the top five regrets of the dying.

 

Click here to read the entire article by Bronnie Ware.

Why Do Schools Have Summer Break?

I miss many things about being a kid. Things like not having to pay bills, being able to sleep in until noon, and it not being weird that I went more than two presidential terms without having a girlfriend.

But the one thing I miss most from my childhood is summer break.

Summer break, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Similar to grace, summer break is best described as amazing.

Remember that feeling of the last day of school? A feeling so great it inspired a weird dude in makeup to write a song.

If summer break is so amazing, why is it exclusive to school? Why doesn’t every organization get to take a couple of months off between June and August? Let’s find out…

Wonder Why Wednesday: Why Do Schools Have Summer Break?

For the longest time, people thought the answer to this question was farming. People attributed summer break to the belief that families and children had to work on their farms.

But that is not correct.

Yes, kids in rural area were needed to lend an extra hand during the busy season on the farm, but not in the summer. Planting season was in spring and harvesting season was in fall. There was no extra work to be found in the dog days of summer.

So why the break?

In the mid-1800s, many U.S. schools stayed open all year long. That is until education experts and doctors began to conclude that too much schooling created stress on kids. Organizers decided it would be best to take a summer break to give students time away from class and time to recover from any stress they may be feeling.

So why summer?

Three reasons: temperature, travel and training.

  1. Temperature – breaking news…summer is hot. Today it is not so bad because we can turn up our AC to full blast. But that wasn’t the case in the 1800s. Rather than force students, and teachers, to bake like a toasted cheeser in a schoolhouse without air conditioning, it was decided these 100 degree days would be better spent a home (where I can only assume they also didn’t have AC).
  2. Travel – even back then, families took summer vacations. And so did teachers. With so many people already traveling from June to August, it made sense to have summer as the designated break period.
  3. Training – In the 19th century, teachers rarely went to college or needed certification. In order to be prepared, they received some training that took place in the summer. Creating a summer break gave teachers more time to train and get ready for the next year.

 

 

Source: CNN

5 Good Things

Having a rough week? Feel like there is nothing but negative stories online, on TV and in the newspaper? Looking for a little pick me up?

Here are 5 good things going on in our world…

  1. Woman Goes From Homelessness to Graduating Harvard – After losing her job several years ago, Norma became depressed and entered a downward spiral that left her homeless and drug addicted without any stability to finish school. But then everything changed thanks to Rosie’s Place – a women’s shelter in Boston, Massachusetts.
  2. Pittsburgh Woman Loses 40 Pounds To Donate Her Kidney To A Friend – Would you be willing to do this for a friend? I hope I would, but who knows.
  3. In First At-Bat Since Mom’s Death, College Player Hits Game-Winning Home Run – It had been eight days since his mother, Susan, 59, died from ovarian cancer. It had been 17 days since McCready, a backup outfielder, had even batted in a game. But what came next was magical.
  4. Good Samaritans Rescue Driver From River – The driver of a minivan that plunged off a bridge into the Indian River on Saturday was rescued with the help of some Good Samaritans who were nearby.
  5. Military Mom Surprises Son After He Throws Out 1st Pitch at Baseball Game – Watch this video and try not to get chills.

More Things We Choose

Yesterday I wrote about some of the things we get to choose. Here are a few more…

We choose to try.

We choose to help.

We choose to laugh.

We choose to forgive.

We choose to be polite.

We choose to try again.

We choose to be humble.

We choose how to respond.

We choose when to respond.

We choose why we respond.

We choose to learn a lesson.

We choose if we learn anything.

We choose to try again, and again.

We choose what we make a priority.

We choose which one of the seven dwarfs we want to be like today.

 

We choose more than we think.

Things We Choose

On Tuesday, the NBA held their Draft Lottery. This is the process the league uses determine the order of the draft. The event features ping pong balls, anxious teenagers and constant suspicion that someone is up to something. Not unlike a college frat party.

The worse the team is, the more likely they are to receive a good draft pick. But overall, they do not get to choose where in the draft order they get to pick. And keeping with the theme of not being able to choose, the draft prospects do not get to decide which team picks them.

Markelle Fultz, generally thought of as the best player available, does not get to choose whether the Boston Celtics, the team with the first pick, draft him. He does not get to choose where he is living never year (although he will be making enough money that he will be able to live in lots of different places).

Fans of NBA teams do not get to choose who their franchise selects. I may want the Suns to draft Przemek Karnowski, but I have no say in that.

So the teams do not get to choose where they pick, players do not get to choose who picks them and fans do not get to choose who their team picks.

Makes you start to think that we do not get to choose anything these days. If that is what you think (and not just about the NBA Draft), here’s a reminder that there are, in fact, many things we get to choose. Here are just a few…

We chose to be mad.

We choose to give up.

We choose to waste time.

We choose to stop learning.

We choose to hold a grudge.

We choose to worry too much.

We choose to listen to the negative voices.

We choose to bite off more than we can chew.

We choose to think we need to control everything.

We choose to think that we have no control over anything.

 

Origin Of The Term ‘Cake Walk’

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the origin of the phrase “piece of cake.” Naturally, that got me thinking about cake which led me to eat cake, which led me to want to write more about cake so that I could eat more cake and not feel bad (all in the name of research).

So here’s another Wonder Why Wednesday featuring cake.

Where Does The Term “Cake Walk” Come From?

A task that is described as a “cake walk” is something that is done with relative ease. For example, beating my younger brother in ping pong is a cake walk.

The term has been around since the 1860s and can be traced back to a dance event that has roots in the Antebellum South of the early 19th century.

Here’s the thing though…the dance was actually quite racist. Bet you didn’t see racism coming up in a post about cake.

According to StuffYouShouldKnow.com:

The cake walk was a dance event where slaves were invited dressed up in the fine clothes and took on the airs of the white aristocracy. They were held in the plantation home, in the same rooms where the resplendent balls were held among white society.The cake walk was similar, it was a ball held for the slaves. Couples promenaded through the ballroom, bowing deeply and frequently, chins and noses held highly aloft. The couple who performed the best interpretation of how the white folks did it won a cake, baked, one imagines, by a slave.

Seems harmless enough, right?

Wrong. The event was a way to mimic white society, but deep down it was a dance used to reinforce the social order by mocking it. The slave owners exhibited their power through this event by allowing their slaves to act white. It was as if to say, “the only time you can act like me is when I let you. And if you do it well, I will give you some cake that you took the time making.”

In the Jim Crow era things got even worse. Cake walks featured white dancers in blackface. They were acting as blacks who were awkwardly attempting to become white. It was seen as black’s desire to be like white people, not mock them.

Crazy, right?

Thankfully, as the years have gone on, America has done away with the racist cake walk ceremony and replaced it a term used to describe something so effortless that the act of walking would result in the prize of cake.

The Podcasts I Listen To

Yesterday I wrote about the 5 things we can learn from podcasts. In honor of that, I thought I would share the podcasts I currently subscribe to. What do you listen to? Let me know if you have a podcast suggestion in the comments section below.

(In order of the Adam Baker podcast ranking)

  1. Brickhouse – Unconventional and hilarious basketball analysis.
  2. CBS Sports Eye On College Basketball Podcast – Fun college basketball talk with shout outs to your favorite random players.
  3. Freakonomics Radio – Have fun discovering the hidden side of everything.
  4. St. Patrick Catholic Community – Previews of the weekly readings and replays the Sunday’s homily.
  5. Catholic Stuff You Should Know – A lighthearted exploration of various prominent and obscure Catholic topics.
  6. Happier with Gretchen Rubin – Practical, manageable advice about how to be happier.
  7. The Seth Davis Podcast – Smart conversations with interesting people in and around the world of sports.
  8. Stuff You Should Know – Learn how everything works.
  9. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – Journalism wrapped in a game-show package.
  10. Side Hustle School – A daily show for everyone who works a regular job and wants to start an income-earning project on the side.
  11. The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – Great storytelling of popular stories…with a twist.
  12. Grammar Girl Quick And Dirty Tips For Better Writing – Short and friendly tips to improve your writing.

5 Things We Can Learn From Podcasts

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something we listen to, but can’t talk back to…

5 Things We Can Learn From Podcasts

1. You Can Pick Anything You Like

Do you like sports? How about politics? How about books or booze or board games? No matter what you like, there’s likely a podcast for that. Nothing is off limits. Anything you can think of has the potential to be a successful podcast.

2. If It Doesn’t Exist, Create It

If you read that last paragraph and thought, “you are so wrong Adam. I am Exit sign enthusiast. There are no podcasts dedicated exclusively to Exit signs.” Then start one. Chances are you aren’t the only Exit sign fan. Maybe there are others out there who would listen to your show. Or maybe not. You’ll know until you try?

3. Anyone Can Do It, But You Have To Stick With It

You do not need the backing of a radio station to start a podcast. You just need a microphone, something to talk about and lots of patience. Anyone can do it, but that also means that anyone can do it. There’s a lot of competition. If you are not willing to stick with it, you might want to think twice.

4. You Don’t Have To Do At Their Speed

I listen to nearly all of my podcasts at 1.5x speed. It allows me to listen to more podcasts more frequently. I can finish a 30 minute podcast in like 20somthing minutes (this isn’t a math blog). I can also listen to podcasts at 0.5x the speed (although I would never do that) Just because someone created a 30 minute podcast, doesn’t mean that is what I have to spend on it. Just because others are doing something at one pace, doesn’t mean you have to follow that speed.

5. Sizes May Vary

Some podcasts are long. Some are short. Some promote products. Some are just a labor of love. Some make money. Some don’t. There are many reasons to do something. Why are you doing what you do?

Does Writer’s Block Exist?

Today I came across this quote from author Tim Ferriss…

To which author Seth Davis agreed…

I am not going to make it a practice of arguing with authors who are way more successful than I am, but upon reading this, my first thought was that I disagree.

Surely, writer’s block exists, doesn’t it?

If Ferriss’ and Davis’ point is that it shouldn’t exist then I agree 100%. If they are saying that we shouldn’t let it stop us, then I am on their side for sure.

But saying it doesn’t exist? Just because we want something to go way or we want to power through it, doesn’t mean it is not real.

Obesity should not exist. We should not let obesity stop us.

But obesity is real. That being said, more than anything obesity can be seen as an excuse.

Maybe what Ferriss and Davis are saying is that writer’s block is merely an excuse. I know I have used it an excuse far too many time.

But it does exist. Right? Saying it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Or does it? I honestly have no clue. I could argue either way.

What do you think? Does writer’s block exist?

If you think it does, maybe you can try this…or this…or this. If you think it does not exist, please help me to understand why. I would love to make it not exist in my writing world.