Thursday, November 29, 2007

...What Keeps Everything From Happening at Once

Y'know, I just took a few minutes to research the title of this entry, trying to get the exact wording from Buckaroo Banzai. Instead I found this:

"Time," he said, "is what keeps everything from happening at once."
--Ray Cummings, "The Girl in the Golden Atom" (1919)

And this:

“Time is what prevents everything from happening at once”
--John Archibald Wheeler (American physicist, b. 1911)

I even found someone advising not to worry about whether Einstein or Woody Allen said it first. One thing's for sure, though: it didn't originate with ol' Buckaroo.

I thought of the quote, or paraphrase, tonight as I cast around for something I was ready to say with respect to this seminar I've been attending. Yes, Julie, fish were thrown on a video screen, and there was also an unseen gorilla. But that wasn't really the gist of the thing. I still don't know how much I understand the details of this particular cognitive/gestalt system of self-improvement, or how much I'm willing to buy into it, or at least give it a chance. I'm only halfway through it, after all. The other half will be the week before Christmas. Some of it does seem to make sense, and I don't want my normal skepticism to turn into postmodern cynicism. So I'll have to think it over, possibly test some elements of it, and make up my mind in the fullness of time.

One particular claim that came out today seems counterintuitive, to say the least; and that's where the time quote comes in. Affirmations guru Lou Tice claims that you should write a bunch of affirmations (think of the Al Franken character Stuart Smalley, only less pathetic) in different areas of one's life, and thus improve all aspects of your life at once. The idea is to avoid being too obsessed with one thing, and being "out of balance" in one's priorities. As someone with a marked tendency to obsess over one thing at a time, I can sort of see this reasoning even as I rebel against it. After all, just a week ago I wrote about the major stressful changes in my life over a three month period. I'm sure I've read before that the more major changes going on in your life (good or bad or both), the more stressed out you'll be. I've therefore never thought it might be a good idea to work on my writing, dieting, exercise, CPA exam, finances, house cleaning, etc. all at once! But perhaps the explanation is that the affirmations thing is supposed to get you primed for your new improved life rather than just dumping the end result on you. You have a little time to get used to it, I guess.

So here we are, just under a month before Christmas. The holidays are a stressful time anyway. I'm just digging out from my lack of industry knowledge at work, my dog just finished her radiation therapy for cancer, and I'm supposed to be selecting materials to fix up my bathroom. Is this really the time to start reading sentences every morning and night about losing weight, writing every night, and [third affirmation omitted here]? Sorry, but that doesn't doesn't sound right to me.

Still, the writing thing is something I can do, even if I don't read about it off a 3x5 card. I finished revising the opening scene of Heirs tonight. I'm still not sure page 11 is soon enough for Something Awful to Happen to get the plot moving, but overall I'm pleased with what I've accomplished. For now at least, I plan to keep that going.

On the 3x5 card labeled "Health," the one on which I wrote about good food and daily exercise and such, I also said something about seven hours of sleep a night. Yeah, like that's going to happen. If I ever do try this affirmation thing, I'm going to cross out the word "seven" and write in "six" instead. Even at that, I'm running a little late tonight. Good night!

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