History

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. – Mark Twain

I heard this quote* for the first time the other day. I am a huge fan of history, especially where it is useful to predicting the future. The idea of the future just being a repeat of the past has always rubbed me wrong. But history rhyming with other periods of history… absolutely! What is the Space Age but a rhyming along the theme of explorers like Columbus or Magellan? What is the invention of the rocket engine but a rhyming of the invention of the wheel.


*There is some debate about whether Twain is the author of this quote. My research indicates that it is likely him, or unknown.

Chaos

It seems like the word chaos is everywhere these days. Particularly when it comes to the the Trump presidency. Or maybe just politics in general.

And I’ll admit, there is a ton happening in our world right now. And a lot of it is messy. And it seems random. And it is certainly different than a lot of what has been happening for the last several years.

But chaos?

A few years ago I was in a counseling session complaining to telling him about how hard my life was. A lot was changing in my life: job descriptions, reporting structures, friends who I thought were stable relationships that evaporated in the mess. I had new responsibilities at work, I was training my replacements to cover old responsibilities, and there was still more changes coming. Chaos. Right?

And he says to me, “Chaos is war. It is bullets flying. It’s not knowing if you or the guy next to you is going to get hit. Everything else is less than chaos.”

I’m paraphrasing like crazy there – it’s been a while – but that thought has stuck with me. I’ve had some rough periods in my life. I’ve “fought” through some difficult things. But I’ve never had bullets flying. I’ve never worried about the guy next to me being shot.

 

So what is this situation that I’m in, if it’s not chaos? (What is this situation that our country is in?) It’s messy. It’s divided. It’s hard. It’s complicated. It’s uncertain. It’s less than ideal. It is harder than I had hoped. It’s emotional. It’s exhausting. Did I mention it’s hard?

You see I was cheating. I was skipping the honest evaluation of my situation and working towards truth and a solution. Instead I was playing the martyr and using an emotionally loaded word to inaccurately conflate my troubles. Poor me. My life is so hard. It’s chaos. And thankfully, my counselor caller BS.

So 5 years later, with the word chaos flying around as if it was bullets, and I’m reminded, once again, that it almost never is that bad. We may not know where all this is heading. We may not agree with some of what we know. But the word chaos is an emotional exaggeration to get ratings. It’s a cheap trick and journalists should know better than that.

Edit: If you saw an earlier version of this post (rss), I deleted the bit at the bottom. I was distracting myself, and therefore you, from the point. Even in a post about accuracy of language and saying what you mean, I missed the point. No wonder we’re struggling.

Under Construction

I hate under construction pages. I’ve built a few of them over the years. For that matter, I hate seeing a favorite store or ride close for a few weeks (or months) while they do refurb. I get it. Sometimes it’s necessary. And I’m not particularly fond of having to shop around your remodeling, but I sure wish you weren’t closed.

All that to say, this site is under construction. But I’m still here. And hopefully you are too. There’s no real sidebar yet. And my newsletter form needs implementing. And I need to update the about page. There’s so much good stuff going on right now, and I don’t want to wait for the site to be perfect to tell you about it all.

So pardon our dust, excuse the mess, and check out what I’ve been up to. There’s more coming soon.

Ground Hogs Day

Ground Hog’s Day is, by far, one of my wife and I’s favorite annual holiday movies. It certainly is one of our most consistent annual holiday movies. We have our Christmas favorites and some of them are even traditions, but since we’ve been married, I don’t think we have watched anything with as much consistency as our annual watching of Ground Hog’s Day. (even if with our grown-up jobs and 3 kids, we don’t watch it on Ground Hog’s Day).

I think part of why this movie has resonated with me so much over the years, and even more so as I’ve gotten older, can be summed up by the scene in the bowling alley.

What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

 

That about sums it up for me.

In one day, Phil goes from just doing his job, to being stuck in one place with no escape, to the thrilling freedom of doing whatever he wants, to chasing money and women, to depression from the hopelessness of not being able to escape being stuck in that one day. The writer of the movie has said in interviews that he pictured thousands of years passing as Phil learned and evolved and re-lived that one day over and over. For me, I’m only 39, but I’ve definitely had those days, those seasons of my life, where I felt like I was just reliving the same day over and over again, stuck in one place, and no nothing I did mattered to anyone.

For Phil, the switch flipped when he decided to help people and improve himself. He decided the world didn’t revolve around him, and what we don’t see, but can infer, is that he is still stuck in that place, doing the same thing over and over again, maybe for another thousand years. But this time, he’s happy. He has purpose.

And yes… there’s a love story that distracts from what is really happening here. Because ultimately it’s not about him getting the girl. It’s about him finding joy in the simple things, finding joy in the things that aren’t all about him. He finds purpose, even in the monotony of one place, one day, always the same.

I don’t know about you, but in 2017, this is the thing, more than anything, I need to figure out. It’s already February. And today is another day. Just like yesterday. Just like the day before. But it’s time to get unstuck. Past time, really.

7 Ways to Kill Your New Year’s Resolutions in the First 7 Days

1. Go out to lunch with a friend and tell yourself that eating poorly for one meal won’t derail your diet. Go out to dinner that night as well. Don’t bother weighing yourself in the morning.

2. Hit dismiss on your new smart watch’s reminder to stand. An hour later, hit dismiss again. Wonder why you can’t “close the rings”.

3. Throw a book in your bag so you’ll have something to read during lunch. After all, this year you are reading a book a month. Carry the book with you for a week. Be sure to have lots of good reasons for never pulling it out of your bag. Put it back on the shelf after you finally admit defeat.

4. Freeze your credit cards in a block of ice so you won’t be tempted to use them and you can finally tackle all that debt. Remember that Amazon has your credit card info stored and your Prime membership expires in February. You really should be taking advantage of that free shipping.

5. Set your alarm for 5:30 as you promise yourself that this year my mornings will be better. Hit Snooze. And again. A few more times… roll out of bed with just enough time to shower and grab a granola bar on your way out the door.

6. Make a proper David Allen #GTD todo list for the first time in years. Spend the first few hours of Monday color coding all the categories. Whittle away the afternoon answering emails. Remember the todo list on Tuesday and cross something off. Anything really. Add 10 more things from your meeting Tuesday afternoon. Crumple up your todo list and Google “productivity hacks” for an hour. Dream about February 1 so you can start with a clean slate.

7. New Year’s resolutions are for suckers. People break them before the first week is over anyways. I’m just not going to make any.

A New Year… A New Blog

I’ve started to revamp this site about 3 times per year for the last 4 years. Seriously… 12 false starts to get ChrisMarsden.com back up and running. Every time, it was a post or two added on to the years of content that was still here from when the blog was a regular part of my normal life. And every time it felt like those one or two posts weren’t enough to overcome the months (or years) of stagnation.

So now… the old content is gone. It’s a clean slate. A new blog. A fresh start.

(Technically the old content is still around, just hiding (for now)).