“Sometimes An Apple Is Just An Apple”
“Sometimes An Apple Is Just An Apple”
May 29, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
Sometimes An Apple is Just An apple – Freud (……allegedly)
The first time a bird shit on me I felt it was a clear sign from the heavens that I was about to get lucky – my dream of becoming a millionaire at 25 years old was on the verge of coming true. Yes! Let’s just say that I was going through a particularly rough patch in what had become the tattered, soiled fabric of my life. The year was 1998. If the years of my life were wines, 1998 would be a cheap house red wine – the kind that gives you post-siesta headaches.
I had been praying for relief and so I was 100 percent sure that this was God’s comedic way of saying, “My son, I heard your prayers and here is proof that I will grant your wish”. So, yes, the deal between God and me was unceremoniously sealed vis-à-vis freshly splattered bird shit. For a million dollars I was more than cool with that.
I went back to work with a soiled shirt but the biggest grin on my face. I waited anxiously for my million dollars to arrive the next day, nothing happened. Then the next, and the next. Then a year, then two, then three, then ten and then I gave up. Years later, I realized that, as Freud said, “sometimes and apple is just an apple”. If Freud were sitting next to me when this happened he probably would have said, “Winston it's just bird shit. Wash it out. “ It was just an unfortunate accident. Alas it was not divine, celestial Morse code or a harbinger of a financial windfall. Now, if my mother were sitting in the park with me she would say: “Son, you should thank God the bird did not poop in your face”. Once again, she would be right.
In my moment of desperation I wanted my soiled shirt to mean something magical. But it wasn’t. The ten years following my bird incident were actually the most challenging in my life. They were froth with career challenges, financial struggles, loss of friendships, divorce, poor health, depression and all kinds of problems. Ten years later, rather than complaining, one morning I began to accept and embrace the undulations of my life. I began to speak gratitude into the universe. Gratitude for surviving. Gratitude for the many gifts that I had. Gratitude for all my faculties being intact. I stopped trying to make assumption about why things happened or did not happen in my life and accepted everything as being a critical element to the making of a full life. From that moment of acceptance and gratitude emerged one of my favorite poems:
Life has been like harvesting grapes
and endlessly bottling wine,
there have been some good years,
and some bitter undrinkable years.
But that case in the basement,
of the most auspicious wine,
that furtively ages in stages,
until the vintage becomes divine,
has made the long, breathless journey,
all the more worthwhile.
Sometimes as humans acceptance is a challenge and so we tend to overthink things and make assumptions. There are countless things that we should not make assumption about. Here are three:
- Accept the fact that there is generally no conspiracy theory – don’t give the benefit of the doubt too quickly but also don’t give doubt to the benefit too quickly. Just wait and see. Humans are inherently focused on their self-interest. We expend our energies on our own welfare before we begin to expend any energy on other people – whether that energy is positive or negative. In fact, in his book Change Your Thinking Change Your Life, Brian Tracey points out that 99% of the times people’s time and emotional energy are wrapped up with their own thoughts about themselves. Only one percent of their emotional energy is available to everyone else in the world, including you. Can you imagine that? So the majority of the time we are simply delusional to think that people are out to get us, or they are sitting at their dinner tables with their families talking about us, or that they are hanging out past midnight in an alley planning a savage attack on us. Not to say that haters don’t exist. It’s just that 99% of the time even haters are more concerned with their welfare than how to hate on you.
- Accept the fact that bad things happen to good people and that good things happen to bad people. This is a tough one but it is what it is. Life is like watching a game of chess. Unless you watch the whole thing you don’t really know how the whole game played out or who really won. In life we are seeing only a fraction of life’s chess game. When something bad happens to us it does not mean that we have lost the entire game. When something good happens to a bad person it does not mean that they have won the entire game. We have to wait and see. There is a wonderful book by Harold S. Kushner that you should read. It is called, When Bad Things Happen To Good People.
- Accept the fact that we cannot know everything. When we don’t know about something we tend to doubt its existence and we start to make assumptions...and you know what they say about making assumptions. In the immortal words of my trusted advisor, Dr. Deborah Kiley, “vague information almost always leads to assumptions and those assumptions are almost always wrong”. I agree. So resist the temptation to simply make assumptions. Just wait and see. If that is too passive for you, ask a clarifying question or do some research until the fog clears.
So my challenge for you today is to simply remember that sometimes an apple is just an apple and resist the temptation to think otherwise. Enjoy your day.