What will be, let be; but what may change, change.
The poet in me has put off writing this post for some time. There is an elegance in the succinctness of “che sarà, sarà” Attributed to Christopher Marlow, published posthumously in 1604. “what will be, will be”—an elegance I have been unable to preserve in editing it. I tried “che sarà, sarà; che cambia, cambiare” in keeping with the off-grammar Italian theme, but it lacks gusto. However, the message keeps trying to be heard so posted it shall be, however prosaic.
The first time I looked seriously at how to optimize my use of time was my fifth semester (third if you ignore summers) at BYU. I was enrolled five classes, all five involving significant programming projects, and I was, for the first time in my college career, not ahead of my deadlines. Being a week ahead of every deadline requires exactly the same effort as being a week behind every deadline. It’s moving from behind to ahead that is challenging. Reducing my slumber to four hours per diem halted my regression, but it was increasingly apparent I could not long maintain that stop-gap behavior. Hence, I began an analysis of how my time was spent. Of the several revelations of that inspection, one alone caught me by surprises.
Being worried was taking up a lot of my time. I would lose focus and cease being productive as I fretted over things I could not control. My recreation failed to recreate my positive energy and spirits because my mind was not at ease.
I needed to let go of things I could not hold anyway. I find that, in a change of attitude, it is useful to enlist the power of a good personal ad campaign including catchy slogans. I tried “Laissez-faire”, using as a jingle a portion of Moxy Früvous’s “King of Spain”:
It’s laissez-faire, I don’t even give a care
Let’s make Friday part of the weekend
And give every new baby a chocolate éclair
but such a slogan was not productive, encouraging my already-to-prevalent habit of seeking escapist entertainments in times of pressure. “Che sarà, sarà” sounded fatalistic so I settled on “oh well”, but it was an unhappy compromise. While I managed quite well without a good slogan, I remained on the lookout for a better phrase to use in helping others.
Two challenges are embedded in not wasting time being stressed. First, you must distinguishing between what will be despite your efforts and what you might change. Second, you must let go of one but not the other. It’s neither “chill, dude” nor “get to work, slacker”. It’s also not the “find an easier solution” message that is often intended by “work smarter, not harder”: such an attitude is more often a form of escape or rationalization than it is smart.
Some things in life simply will be. Rain will fall, sun will shine, compost will compost, and so on. Others are consequences attached to choices I’m not going to unmake: if I enroll in a college course, I will get a grade at the end of the semester. To these families of things, the “will be”s of the world, I say “che sarà, sarà”, “what will be, will be”, “not my job, not my concern”.
Other things in life have reins attached and within reach. These form a hierarchy of sorts. At the bottom are such tools as the intangible linchpin of the attitudes I reinforce within myself and the trivial detail of which shirt I wear to work each day. At the top are the chief objectives of personal happiness, lifestyle, and future prospects. At the bottom the reins are so many I cannot intelligently handle them all; at the top they are so complex I can rarely see to handle them effectively. But in the middle are approachable and controllable elements, things like how much I study for class and what elements of my employment receives my attention. To these useful and approachable elements of life I say “Che cambia, cambiare”, “what changes, change”, “the buck stops here”.
There is much more I could say on this subject, and some of it I shall say in later posts. But it is time to drop the blog and grab another rein today.
The world evolves without me. I’m off to change the world.