I recently discovered this amazing novelist. I mean, I think I’m the only one in the world who knows he’s alive. How cool is that?! Well, maybe I’m not the only one, but I’m loving telling my friends about him. His name is Gary C. Horton and he wrote the coolest novel called “Some Glad Morning” . That link is hot, so you can go to Amazon and check it out. It’s a mainstream novel with a killer love story that lives on after you put the book down. I’m not kidding, it’s that amazing.
Anyway, I searched online for something short Gary C. Horton had written and I found some of his newspaper columns. This is one of them about New Years. I know, it’s May, but I just had a birthday and it feels like a new year to me. Enjoy!
Another Trip Around the Sun
by Gary C. Horton
We did it again. We made it through another year. Imperfectly, of course. Some of us lost a job along the way, or a loved one. Some of us gained more debt, more weight, more wrinkles, another pain or two. But, we made it. We’re still in the game. Now, there’s talk of the new year with plans and resolutions, promises to do better and be better. I say, forget all that and enjoy the ride. In the coming year, practice doing less.
I’m reminded of the plate spinner on the Ed Sullivan Show. The plate spinner could get half a dozen or so plates spinning on sticks and keep them spinning. As long as a plate spun fast enough it stayed balanced, but if it slowed to the point of stalling, it fell to the floor and shattered. It’s ludicrous we ever thought this was entertainment, but it was the 60’s and we believed watching the tv test pattern was good television. The truth is, now we all are plate spinners with an endless list of responsibilities, commitments and obligations, frantically rushing about to keep all the spinning plates from falling. Even when our bodies take a break our brains continue to race like a pin ball clanging all the bells and flashing all the lights.
If we look more closely at the plate spinner on the Ed Sullivan show, he has a lot to teach us about our lives. He chose the number of plates to spin and if it got to be too much, he chose which plate to let fall. We have choices too. He also prioritized the spinning plates, attending to each plate in a specific pattern so that it got the necessary boost in time. Otherwise, he would have plates crashing all over the floor. Admittedly, crashing plates are exciting to watch, unless your spouse is throwing them at you.
The plate spinner was also focused and calm. I suspect, much like an athlete, he trained his body and his mind and took extraordinary care of himself. It seems to me that with all the rushing about, we don’t take care of ourselves nearly as well as we should. Our health suffers and our relationships suffer too. Some of us got ourselves into a real pickle this past year. The economy only made things worse, but we can still take care of ourselves.
Ironically, stress shuts down the brain’s capacity to think through complicated problems. Just when we need our brain the most, it tends to fizzle out on us. It’s not that we’re stupid. This is how we evolved. For the brain to function properly, we need to be relaxed and we need to have slept well and deeply. Deep sleep restores dopamine and serotonin, the feel good hormones in our heads. Relaxation and a calm demeanor allow us to use the full capacity of our minds. We accomplish more when we do less. When we rush about, trying to keep all the plates spinning, we are stressed, less efficient and prone to make costly mistakes.
While the plate spinner on Ed Sullivan may have looked frazzled, that was part of the act. He knew exactly what he was doing. Although, he moved quickly to keep all the plates going, his movements were actually fluid motion, a dance with it own rhythm. Most of all, he loved what he was doing and enjoyed the moment.
In the coming year, as we start another trip around the sun, I urge you to choose which plates to spin and which to let fall to the floor. Care for yourself like the extraordinary being you are. Learn to sleep long and deeply, so your brain has all the feel good things it needs to serve your well. Be calm so your mind can do its best. Relax and enjoy the ride.
Gary C. Horton can be reached through his website.