Predicting stupidity…

Past performance is not a guarantee

of future results, and every disclaimer agrees,

as much as we’d like – as much as we need

to believe we know what’s next, we don’t;

from characters depicted in a favorite novel

any resemblance to real people, places or events

is purely coincidental but just as obvious,

satisfying a craving no addiction can end;

outcomes and visions and prophecies are not

enough, unfortunately, as the Talmud says

prophecy has been given to the fools,

and we are all, thankfully, ready to be fools.

Building fences…

In the Talmud, so I’m told,

there’s a how-to about how to

control impulses which get

the better of us all, ever day;

it goes something like this,

build a fence around it,

that impulse which distracts

and makes us forgetful

of the right ought of duty

in pursuit of the wrong ought

of desire and appetite,

and when that fence

doesn’t work, which it won’t

build another fence around

the fence, and when it fails,

which it will because all

fences fail, look at the mess

of fence-building you’ve

made all for an impulse

that was probably harmless

and now build a fence

around fence-building

before you forget

what’s truly important;

for such is life, my friend.

All history, no life…

Only a Past

The man begging at the monument’s facade
has no future to imagine but only a past,
as pretenders to writing fear the blank page
praying for a prompt of creative forecast,
as history is inevitable providence to the faithless
afraid of the unknown of our choices
and Pollyannaish wishes cloud the gray matter
silencing all of doubt’s voices;
when will those who need to, learn to learn
and let those who cry, cry
when will old dogs find new tricks to love
until the day they must die.

Such is life…

Distractions are as ordinary as, well, distractions. So many things blink, flash and scream for our attention; so many things are distracting. In our ‘get something done’ world, anything that distracts is a problem.

How do distractions work? They take advantage of impulses, lack of control, reactions in-the-moment – thoughtlessness, instinctive, knee-jerk kind of responses that make us wonder Why did I do that?!

Remember that Facebook update from a friend saying, “I’m signing off Facebook for a week (or month, or year, or forever) because it’s too distracting” – but it’s nice that they leave a note to explain why we won’t see hourly updates of what the kids are doing or what lunch looks like. That all-or-nothing approach to eliminating distractions seems like it should magically solve the problem. But it doesn’t.

BrokenFence_smallThe old rabbis (are there any other kind?) told a story about distractions that is a little different from our all-or-nothing solution. It’s about building fences – those binary, all-or-nothing, either/or reactions to distractions, impulses and what we should probably just call life.

We’re sure fences should work, but they don’t…

Such Is Life

In the Talmud, so I’m told,
there’s a how-to about how to
control impulses which get
the better of us all, ever day;
it goes something like this,
build a fence around it –
that impulse which distracts
and makes us forgetful
of the right ought of duty
in pursuit of the wrong ought
of desire and appetite,
and when that fence
doesn’t work, which it won’t
build another fence around
the fence, and when it fails,
which it will because all
fences fail, look at the mess
of fence-building you’ve
made all for an impulse
that was probably harmless
and now build a fence
around fence-building
before you forget
what’s truly important;
for such is life, my friend.