Leaving People In The Dust At 5 Miles Per Hour

Here’s one that really ticks me off. A conversation I’ve heard countless times. A conversation that grates against every nerve, and every brain cell I have. A conversation that happens at work all the time. Every day.

“Mark, you do this all day, every day. How can you do this at home?”

“I don’t understand.”

“You push yourself to get better at your job all day. And then you take it home with you. You spend all day working on computers, and then you go home, and work on computers.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“Because I get tired of computers.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you ever rest? I get off of work, I walk through the door, and I forget all about this place until I walk through the door the next morning.”

“Ah. Good. Stand still. Makes you easier to run over.”

Let me get this straight. You’re actually telling me you love your job, and won’t give it up, but you hate it so much you pretend it doesn’t exist when you’re not at work. Is that what you’re saying, ‘cause that’s what I’m hearing. And if that’s what you’re saying, don’t you realize how irrational that is. How illogical. Come on. You either love your job, or you hate it.

My doctor tries to explain this conflicting set of ideas to me. “People like their work. They do. But they need rest. Just like you. They need rest, so they limit their work to the work environment, and that leaves them time to rest.”

And inside I’m laughing, thinking about how many of them think I’m a frickin’ genius, or brilliant. They don’t have a clue. It’s a simple math thing.

Have a golf cart that runs endlessly at 5 miles an hour. Have a car that runs wide open at 125 miles an hour. Put a cup of gas in each. Which one wins the endurance race? The golf cart. Obviously.

All I have to do is cruise along, taking it easy, playing around each day, and I end up running over everyone else. I keep chipping away at things. Learning a little here, a little there. And it adds up. And I watch people drown themselves in oceans of stuff to meet a deadline, and then collapse into useless rubble until the next deadline.

“You never stop!”

Hell, I stop all the time! You just never notice it, because I also keep going every day! You run wind sprints until you fall over. I walk. That’s the difference. I didn’t learn all the things I know overnight. I learned them gradually. One day at a time. I learned a bunch some days. Other days I wondered if I’d ever figure anything out. But I didn’t stop. I never said, “My brain hurts, I’m done trying.”

I’ll use exercise as an example again, because people seem to understand that. Even couch potatoes seem to understand that. The “I really should get in shape” crowd knows how to get in shape. They just don’t.

You want your abs to look like the people in the magazines? You know what you have to do to look like that. It takes time. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.

With work, it’s the same damn thing. It takes a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and not giving up just because it hurts, and you’re tired.

OK. I get it. You endured 12 years of school, and 4 years of college. It seems like all you did for 16 years was learn and study. Now, you’re done with that. You’re free! Now, you can spend the next 60 to 80 years watching episodes of NCIS on TV, and mowing the lawn, because that’s what life’s about, and wondering how people survived the round of layoffs at work when you got pink slipped.

Idiots. Stupid people. And you don’t even know you’re stupid. That’s the part that makes me angry. You actually embrace your stupidity as a sign of your success! “I worked flippin’ hard to get here! Now, I’m going to enjoy the rewards of my work!”

You think I don’t enjoy the rewards of my work? Really? Because I keep working? Because I keep learning? Because I keep trying? Fine. You sit at home, watching NCIS episodes. I’ll take a walk at the Botanical Garden, and enjoy the flowers and trees. You have a couple of beers to drink. I’ll stand beside the ocean, and watch the waves, and feel the suns heat untying the knots in my sore muscles. You mow the lawn to keep the neighbors happy. I’ll walk a trail at a National Wildlife Preserve, and marvel at how an egret stalks and catches fish.

You think I don’t relax? You think I don’t play? Just because I keep learning stuff every day? Like I said before. Go ahead and stand still. It makes you easier to run over. And me and my golf cart will putter along, and leave you years behind us.

It’s your choice to make. Make it or don’t.

I made my choice decades ago.

A Clip From Chapter 28 Of JuNoWriMo 2012

Then Merlin came out of the trees. One moment he was not there. The next moment he was. It surprised the girls. Both Musica and Sunshine jumped, and let out little squeals of surprise. “Merlin! Where did you come from?”

Merlin laughed. It sounded like metal plates bouncing off of a stone floor. “I have been watching from the trees.”

Mystica had to laugh herself. “Merlin is invisible in shadow.”

Merlin cut in, “Except to you, of course. You’ve learned how to find me.”

“Just because I can feel your black magic. And that tells me where you are.” She looked at her daughters. “But you can’t feel his magic, so you can’t tell where he is.” She looked at Merlin, “But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? To play hide and seek. So they girls can start tl learn how to find you?”

“Yes.”

The girls spent hours playing hide-and-seek with Merlin. He would hide in the shadows, and they would try to find him. Then, they would hide in the shadows, and he would find them. Merlin took his time finding the girls. He knew exactly where they were. Mystica knew that. She knew where they were too. Even without watching them. She knew Merlin could see them in the shadows. He could hear them breathing. He could smell them.

She knew that Sunshine and Musica could not find Merlin. Unless he let them. They couldn’t see him. They couldn’t hear him. And she watched as they walked right past him many times. Merlin had fun hiding for a while, and then he started leaving clues for them to find that would guide them to him.

With each round of the game, Merlin made it more difficult for them to find him.

Eventually, Sunshine and Musica grew tired of playing. And the sun was getting low. Mystica helped the girls bathe in the lake. Neither of them knew how to swim. So Mystica had to keep them in shallow water.

After they were clean, they went to their houses for the night, and went to bed.

But before they went to sleep, Musica took her flute, and she played. It was a beautiful song. Merlin had come out to listen. He’d curled up like some big kitten on the ground next to Mystica. And listened. “She has musical talent that is beyond someone her age. That’s part of her gift of wild magic. That she can play like she does.”

Sunshine fell asleep that night, listening to beautiful flute music. That night, she had wonderful dreams. Of playing with Musica. Singing songs. Chasing butterflies. All of it things she never thought she’d do. But now. All of her dreams were coming true.

And she loved Musica. Her sister. She’d always wanted a sister. Now she had one.

And she loved Mystica, her Mommy. She’s always wanted a mother that loved her. And took care of her. And could protect her. And help her learn all about who she was. And what she could do. And now she had one.

Sunshine slept very well that night.

A Clip From Chapter 26 of JuNoWriMo

Sunshine needed to get out and about. Mystica knew exactly what to do. She crossed the lake, and sat down in the rain, right next to Sunshine. “Let’s have a girl’s day out,” she said. “We’ll go to a village I know of, and we’ll find some new clothes for you. And a hair brush.” She smiled at Sunshine, “Is there anything you’d like to do while we are out?”

The rain began to fade, until it stopped. And Sunshine smiled. “Yes, Mommy! Yes! Let’s have a girl’s day out!”

Mystica picked Sunshine up, and called on her White Magic. “I’m going to try something different.” She winked at Sunshine. “Merlin said I can go anywhere I want to go, and get there very quickly. Let’s see if he was right. There are shops I know about at a village several days from here. Let’s see how long it takes us to get there.”

Sunshine thought that was a marvelous idea. “Let’s go, Mom! Let’s go!”

Musica called to the White Magic. It wrapped around them both. Then she spoke, “Let’s go!” There was a flash of white light. Everything just became a blur of swirling colors. It felt like they never really moved. But when the white light faded, and the colors stopped swirling around, they were standing on the outskirts of the village Mystica had spoken of.

It was the village Mystica had protected from the wolves.

She took Sunshine’s hand, and the two of them walked into the village. As the villagers saw Mystica, the word that they were being visited by the White Witch. And the White Witch had a little girl with her.

Mystica asked if everyone was OK. She healed those that were not feeling well. And she introduced Sunshine to everyone. “This is Sunshine. She’s my adopted daughter.” Everyone was happy to meet Sunshine. They made her feel welcome.

“Sunshine. What a beautiful name. She’s a beautiful little girl.”

The mothers of the village gathered up, and decided Sunshine needed a few things. They got her a little hand-held mirror, and a hairbrush. They helped her brush her hair. They picked out a couple of sun dresses and a pair of sandals for her.

Everyone ate lunch. The village had a picnic. Unplanned, and hap-hazard. But it was fun.There was singing, and dancing. Sandwiches made with chicken and turkey. And some of the best tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and green beans Sunshine had ever had.

Sunshine was happy. And of course, it was a beautiful day. And the more Sunshine smiled, and laughed, and played with the children in the village, the more beautiful the day became. The villagers asked Mystica about her daughter. Mystica explained that Sunshine was a special little girl. One blessed with wild magic.

Much to her surprise, the villagers accepted that. Several even told her, “We know you. And that you protect and help people. And we believe that if you say Sunshine is not dangerous, then she is not dangerous.”

Several of the mothers of the village sat with Mystica, as they watched the children play such games as tag, and tug-of-war, and hop-scotch.

Sunshine had never been a little girl. She’d never played with so many children all at once. She’d never had so much fun. Mystica watched her, and couldn’t help but smile. It was so wonderful to see Sunshine being a normal, happy, 4-year-old child.

Other children in the village asked her questions, “Are you a fairy?”, and “Did it hurt when your wings started to come out of your back?”, and “When will you learn to fly?” Sunshine answered all the questions. “Yes, I’m a fairy,” and “No. It didn’t. They just started coming out one day,” and “My wings have to grow a lot more before I can begin to learn to fly.”

Several of the girls in the village, and Sunshine, walked through a field of grasses. They picked little wild flowers. And braided them together. Making little headbands they could wear. They helped Sunshine pick the right kind of flowers, and braid them together, so that she had her own flower headband.

Sunshine’s favorite part was when the girls showed her how to brush her hair out, and put it in a pony tail. Sunshine loved that.

As with all good days, eventually, the sun begins to set. And when it did, Mystica and Sunshine knew it was time to leave. The girls of the village had all hugged their new friend Sunshine good-bye. And everyone thanked Mystica for coming to visit them. And for letting them meet her daughter, Sunshine. “Don’t be a stranger,” they told her.

The two of them walked from the village, and as they did, the white magic wrapped around them once again. And in no time at all, they were walking in the clearing by the lake.