The Shortcut Queen


We all have pet peeves.  I hate vanity license plates and non-ironic double negatives in conversation.  I cannot stand it when people don’t go through the categories on Jeopardy in order and the board looks like a checkerboard by the middle of the round.  I get irritated as hell when people leave every sentence hanging like a question.

But my aversion to admitting that maybe I need to just relax and save myself time and energy by not trying so hard…maybe that is where I need to start placing my focus.

I need to stop trying to take shortcuts to life and start working through things as they present themselves.

Maybe not every time.  But one by one I can put together a pretty decent movement toward an easier and better life if I just stop trying so damn hard.   I am trying to work on this.  Not because I need spiritual enlightenment.  It’d be nice if I had such lofty goals.  My goals are more of the self-preservation variety.  I cannot keep pursuing the same old stubborn ways if I’m going to have a life worth living.

I hate backtracking.  I’ll take another route that involves more time or more miles or a combination of both just to avoid backtracking.  With gas at $4 a gallon, this is going to financially ruin me.  But I do this figuratively in addition to literally.  I don’t like just going back and fixing mistakes sometimes.  I’d rather go take the long way around that makes the mistake irrelevant…or less relevant.  Once I put my head down and do something, looking up requires a feat of strength that any Festivus observer would find miraculous.  I will look for new shortcuts to avoid common routes.  Sometimes this works.  Sometimes this fails miserably and I end up spending more time doing the thing I was trying to avoid. This morning I proved that my great backtrack on the way to work was more of a drain on my time when I missed my exit and made it to work earlier than if I hadn’t.

I do not like admitting defeat.  No one does. But I’ll avoid it and internally and externally deny any involvement in something that didn’t work just so I can avoid it.  I think this is probably something that really successful business people do to some degree.  “That wasn’t a failure, it was just part of the process.” No, the Pinto was a failure.  Crystal Clear Pepsi was a failure. (Though, admittedly, I loved it.)  New Coke, the Pontiac Aztec and Enron were failures.  They didn’t push innovation further.  They stopped everyone in their tracks and then crumbled under the pressure.  Admit to it and move on.  Advice I should take myself.

I judge people.  We all do. If you say you don’t then you are lying to me and yourself.  But I judge for things that I am morally opposed to. I judge people for shopping at Walmart even when they don’t have any better options, for having bad hair when my own could use tending to, and for being late when I have issues with timeliness.  I keep trying to relax this judgement.  You’d think that I wouldn’t judge on the things that I do, but maybe there’s a reason for those judgments being extra harsh.  Not all judging is unwarranted or misplaced.  There is a time and place for everything and vowing to not judge others is just like vowing to not breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.  I can hold my breath for awhile, but pretty soon it’s all going to escape.  But maybe I don’t need to breathe so damn heavily.

I offer unsolicited advice.  Sometimes I’ve been there and done that so my advice might be relevant.  Don’t take that professor.  That restaurant has really slow service.  So on.  But sometimes I offer advice that people just don’t want to hear no matter how brilliant it is (and it isn’t really that brilliant most of the time).  People just want to be heard.  I noticed that my dad does this a lot.  Any given conversation with him warrants at least “you know what you should have said…” comment.  I could have the wittiest comeback and tell him about it and he’ll throw in a “you know what you should have said…” It’s irritating and I do it to others.  I need to stop talking and start listening better.


These things are dumb.  But they’re very human.  I think we all have issues with these areas at times.  And in a better world where I had the energy and time to worry about my soul and spirit’s salvation more, I’d work on them for that reason. But maybe there’s more of a reason to work on it…

Sometimes backtracking is the best way to save money and time.

Admitting defeat means you’re open to learning from it in a real and tangible way. 

Ceasing from judging people means an opportunity to see them for who they really are.  

Shutting my advice-giving mouth allows people to make their own mistakes and maybe I’ll even learn a better method to do something along the way.

I am trying to realize this.  I’m trying to be less of the self that I would change if I had time and resources and more of the self that realizes that maybe the lack of time and resources is because I’m spending so much of my energy doing useless things.  Stop judging and telling people to get their acts together.  Get my own act together. Admit defeat.  Admit weakness and unwholeness and all that comes with it and move the hell on.

Just stop with it all.

It’s not about salvation, it’s about practical steps toward less idiocy in my life.  Starting with me. I can’t change everything around me and life is still going to be ridiculously difficult and frustrating.  But adding to it just doesn’t make any sense.  Maybe I had time for it in my teens and twenties, but that time is dwindling now and it’s better spent doing anything else…staring at a wall would be more useful.

One step at a time. Moment by moment.  Breath by breath.  Conscious choices about making life better might take more time up front, but when I make them they tend to make life easier in the end.  Maybe it’s time I stop trying to find a new shortcut around everything and start giving in to moving forward by sometimes going back.


Don't just sit there...say something.

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