I said I was grumpy, not heartless–Let your gifts sing

One of my friends dissed me for disparaging sappy viral videos. I may be a grumpy old man from time to time, but I’m not a heartless cynic. Surely my friends know that sarcasm is just verbal barbed-wire to cover my tender ego.  Yeah, whatever. They want to know what melts my icy blue heart.

Britain’s Got Talent.

Not the American version.  I hate the American version. Our culture is too celebrity obsessed. It has to be the British version.

Every so often someone takes the stage who looks like they’ve had a Kick Me sign tacked on their back for as long as they can remember.  You can see it in their eyes, their walk, how they hold themselves on stage.  Everyone they know has told them that they are stupid, or fat, or funny looking, or have a hobby that isn’t cool.  The audience screams “loser” without even having to say it.

But these people have a secret.  They have some amazing undeniable talent (usually singing)–the kind where God or grace or fate, whatever you believe in has reached out and said, “You. I’m giving you this gift. Please use it.” I especially like when Simon Cowell gets blown off his chair after saying something particularly cutting. These amazing people have been told “You suck” thousands of times. But at least someone (and hopefully themselves) has said, “You are amazing,” and they choose to believe that instead.

They stand up on stage, knowing this is the moment to let their secret go, and when they do, the angels weep, and so do I.

Maybe it’s the music that does me in, but this is how I feel about writing. It was the secret I held for a long time, and now that I’ve let it all fly, the support I’ve received has been greater than I ever expected. The community of writers I’ve been lucky enough to find is so ready to rise to their feet to cheer each other’s success, my icy blue heart is nothing more than a puddle of tepid water.

I think we all have secrets–a piece of ourselves that we protect, afraid it’s too fragile to stand up to a hard world. But it is a gift, this secret, and the world is your amplifier.  Let it out, and it will sing in ways you’ve never expected. I, for one, am ready to listen. I have the tissues handy.

Words by J. B. Everett

It’s About Time

There are so many things I’d accomplish if I just had more time.  I’d finish my novel, my house would be clean and I’d have a rockin’ hard body.  There would be a shorter pile of books next to my bed, and I’d master that excruciating violin etude I’ve been working on for the last six months.  Six months.  No joke.

I convince myself that time is a wild horse and if I could only break it, I could hurdle over the fences and fallen logs that block my way.  I try to lasso my hours with my Google calendar, plotting and allotting, but having a rope isn’t enough if you have lousy aim.  It doesn’t help that lately I’ve had the attention span of a gnat.  I blame menopause for that one.

Time, however, is life’s big red herring.  I used to tell that to my clients all of the time.  When consumers say, “I’d floss my teeth/dust my furniture/read books if I just had the time,”  they are lying.   Not to me, but to themselves.  The truth is, that if I could magically give them another hour each day, they wouldn’t spend it doing whatever I was asking them about.    They’d watch an America’s Next Top Model Marathon or play Farmville.

I’m no different.  I’ve been known to play Angry Birds until my phone was near dead and my hands had lost circulation.  In fact, I have to turn the sound off, or  I’d never stop.  The oinking pisses me off.  It’s like the pigs are gloating.  My son (who has been known to lose a few hours to Call Of Duty) gets annoyingly preachy and calls me an addict.  My response?  “I’ll quit once I pass this level.”  I am also lying.

Time is a more than just a measure of moments that pass through the gateway between present and past.  Time is the currency in which we measure the value of activity.  So does that mean the entertainment provided by an America’s Next Top Model marathon is more valuable to than flossing?  That Angry Birds tips the scale versus finishing my novel, or pinning down that etude I’ve come to despise?  I really hope not.  So why don’t I use my time better? It’s about fear.

It is far easier to slingshot parakeets than it is to face the truth that I might invest a lot of energy and personal esteem into dreams that might be out of reach.  That I might give it my best, and still far very, very short.  It’s more soothing to the ego to say believe that time is my nemesis rather than my inexperience.  Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft.  If that’s true, I have a ways to go without a horse.  Putting it off won’t help.  The pigs will have to wait.

And after I’m done writing for the day, I’ll finish that etude. If I can find the time.

Photograph – Eternal Clock by Robert van der Steeg