Monthly Archives: January 2011

Dawning of a New Day at Sunset

Our lives follow a natural ebb and flow that takes each and every one of us on an exciting and unpredictable journey. Each moment brings with it something new, despite the manifest shadow of monotony that life sometimes casts. With each experience come thoughts and emotions that reflect a spectrum of shades and colors. The more time we spend conscious on this planet, the more we are privileged to witness, to experience, and to create.

Unfortunately, unpredictability is the key word here. We are all on borrowed time, and this past month has been filled to the brim with death too close to home. Death happens everyday. I know. But when it happens to close for comfort, well, I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. Not when it’s close and not when it’s far. But when it’s close, you are privy to the pain of those left behind, and that makes the loss feel that much greater. Loss of a loved one. The loved one’s loss of time. Leaves us asking the universal existential question: Why?

I am in awe that no matter how many tears we shed, the well will never run dry for good. But I also marvel at the fact that tears know when to cease their flow. At a certain point, our hearts, minds, and tear ducts unfetter the shackles of mourning and let us open our eyes to a new day, one that is filled with gratitude for the past and the people who were a part of it, and hope for and anticipation of future adventures with new souls.

My challenge to you is to try to capture and hold onto those feelings of excitement and gratitude, hope and anticipation that are engendered by moments that remind us of the preciousness of every breath we take.

Do a little math

Just for fun, calculate how long you’ve been with your feet planted on this beautiful planet

I have been alive a quarter of a century. A whole quarter of a century. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a speck in time. But in the microcosmic history of  the universe that is my life, that’s an eternity.

25 years

305 months –>  Years x 12 = Months

1,326 weeks –>  Years x 52 = Weeks

9287 days –>  Years x 365 + 1 day for every leap year (every 4 years)

222,888 hours –>  Days x 24

13,373,280 minutes –> Hours x 60

802,396,800 Seconds –> Minutes x 60

…and counting.

How long have you been alive?


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Finding Common Ground

I never liked Monopoly as a kid. My impatient little self couldn’t be trifled with a never-ending game that teetered between jail time and free cash. (The only thing I liked was the thimble – thanks to Peter Pan perhaps?) But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate the Parker brother’s commercialization of a game that, quite ironically, was created to illustrate the negative aspects of monopolies, which concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. While it was created as a tool to defenestrate monopolizing landlords, figuratively speaking, of course, Monopoly the board game seems to have taken on another role entirely: by encouraging players to accrue assets, Monopoly seems to to teach people how to handle their finances or, more tantalizingly (to most?), how to get rich. Considering the international popularity of the game (according to Yehuda, there are 1911 official and unofficial Monopolies), I find it safe to assume that the appeal of this game, beyond its personalization, is the one common denominator that binds all people of all races of all religions and of all denominations together: Money. By the same token, Monopoly hones in on one more binding aspect of the human race: Jail. It’s less glorious, but it’s a fact. About 10 million people are imprisoned worldwide, not counting totalitarian regimes and the like. And the rest of use, I’m sure, prefer to avoid it.

And now we come to the point of today’s post. How do we find common ground in a world so diverse and with such a monstrous population? How do we foster change when we’re really so different? We eat different foods, we sleep at different hours, we think different thoughts, we speak different languages, we believe in different gods, we play different games, we use different currencies. You get the point. And that’s where the Parkers hit the nail on the head. Jail. It’s the one place neither you nor I want to find ourselves in, but it’s fact and some people will end up there and other others won’t. Which is why we all vie for the Get-Out-Of-Jail card. And Money. It’s the one thing that, no matter who we are or what our fight is, we can all agree on. Money satisfies wants and needs. It is a derivative of our survival instinct. In some places, money means life. In other places, money means more Starbucks – a survival of sorts. Anyhow, you want money, I need money. You need money, I want money. No argument there. If it was only as easy as passing Go.

Okay. So here’s the bottom line (all puns intended): the common denominator of all people around the globe is to:

  1. Accumulate Money
  2. Avoid Jail

Now, if we want to create change for the better, to make the world a better place, we need to appeal to these effectively primal impulses. For better or for worse, it seems to me that the only way to make waves is through monetary and legal coercion. Because that’s the only thing we can agree on. Don’t you agree?

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Doing It All & Getting It All Done

I want to do it all.

Really. Everything. I’ve got a list of things I want to accomplish from here to the moon. My house is littered with new projects that find their way to vacant tabletops. My computer is on overload from new business ideas. My shelves are packed with books on random skills and other topics of personal interest that I want to become more well-versed in. My mind is floating in a sea of creativity and ambition. I really and truly want to do it all.

By the same token, and perhaps more importantly, I want to get it all done. Everything I want to do, I also want to complete. To check off accomplishments on that ever-growing list.

But that list only continues to grow (unless the moon is just getting closer…), while the check marks become fewer and farther between. And then there’ s the matter of prioritizing. I want to do everything, but which one should I do first?!??!?

Indeed, today’s post encapsulates all of the challenges of doing it all and getting it all done at the same time. Let’s contextualize: It’s been nine days since my previous post (which, incidentally, was about starting the year off on the right foot). What’s taken so long is a melange of indecision and procrastination: I was fickle about which topic I would write about, so I kept stalling the writing process. I devised some pretty trite excuses for the delay, most notably of which is the fact that I had more important things to do, that I had to focus on my top priorities. Next thing you know, 2011 is well underway and I’m finally picking up the proverbial pen. But not without a host of consequences: those top priorities are in dire need of my utmost attention and I’m now casting them aside (temporarily) as I compose an entry that’s fundamentally about casting things aside (temporarily). Not only that, but those same top priorities, which I considered such top priorities over the last nine days, were themselves cast to the back-burner in favor of other tasks on the list.

Basically, here I am procrastinating procrastination. Interesting.

So how can I not only do it all, but also get it all done?

  1. For starters, I am an advocate of lists. Umm… check. This should not be just a laundry list, but rather a list of goals. If you want to learn to play the piano, set a target: Is it to become the next Bach or, perhaps more realistically, to learn to play the Minuet in G major?
  2. Schedules are key. Let’s start with two. One is a general schedule – a calendar, I suppose – for mapping out your priorities (i.e. due dates, etc.). The other is a specific schedule – daily, weekly, take your pick – that transforms those top priorities, as well as those not-so-top priorities into tangible action items. The latter is a list that should scream check marks!
  3. My mom always says: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Read: keep your stuff in order and put things away when your done. It keeps your mental space just as clutter-free as physical space. (Also, if “organize room” was on your list, well, now it’s not.)
  4. Finally, periodically review your lists, schedules, and progress. Everything is flexible, so rewrite your lists as you see fit and alter those schedules if priorities shift.

My take-home message is this: I can do it all AND I can get it all done. But it won’t happen overnight. Things take time, but as long as I map out my objectives, I will reach my goals.

And so will you. Give it a shot.

What about you? How do you do it all and get it all done?


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First Things Last or Last Things First

We’re in the 11th hour. Everyone’s hurrying to formulate those last minute New Year’s resolutions: “Lose 10 pounds”…”Learn to cook”…”Save money”…”Make money”…”Learn a new hobby”…”Keep this year’s New Year’s resolutions.”

Enough’s been said about trite and, quite frankly, pointless New Year’s resolutions. Personally, every day I seek to learn new things. I don’t consider that a resolution, and I don’t really intend to contrive any. Nonetheless, I do believe in starting off the New Year on the right foot. But rather than setting out with self-destructing promises, I prefer to end off the Gregorian year with accomplishments and achievements: Rather than trying to make amends for a miserable failure of a year – which is what the cliché resolution seems to imply, I prefer to perpetuate the positive aspects of 2010 and bring them along into 2011.

December 31, 2010
Maya’s list of firsts and other encouraging successes

  1. woke up at 6:45 → SUCCESS
  2. did not buy sweet coffee frap (Ice Kafe) → SUCCESS
  3. baited a brobdingnagian fly in my tea → FIRST
  4. navigated around the center of tel aviv without the help of a gps → FIRST
  5. spent less than 5 minutes in a grocery store → SUCCESS
  6. napped for 15 minutes (not 2 hours!) → FIRST (in recent past)
  7. cooked with sweet white wine → FIRST
  8. used baking soda to neutralize compost stench → FIRST
  9. cleaned floor with vinegar → FIRST
  10. scrubbed clean an oil-caked pan with baking soda → FIRST

Personal growth is contingent on recognizing our successes and failures, which are themselves contingent on doing firsts and aiming for continued successes. This exercise is something that should be done not just once a year, but everyday.

I would love to know: What’s on your list of December 31st FIRSTS?

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