Michael Battalio

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Thirteenth Annual Christmas Mass Email

Greetings and Salutations, 
        Welcome to the Thirteenth Annual Christmas Mass Email.  I hope this finds each and every one of you well.

        Usually I talk about the past in these emails, but in this one I want to spend a moment on the future. We spend so much time dwelling on what could have been when we should be considering what we might do now to help us later. What’s the one thing you want to do long term to improve yourself or your situation? Instead of procrastinating or worrying about decisions already made, take the first step towards that goal. Is it learning a language or an instrument? Find some material online to start. Is it writing a book? Write the outline. Want to commit to better health? Take one walk. Before you even realize it another year will be closing. Don’t wait. The future is never that far away.

        However, I don’t want to be misinterpreted. I do not mean to imply that every daunting project need be done or that every goal should be some grandiose idea requiring inordinate amounts of time. The culmination of a large project is the sum of many small tasks, and the size of the accomplishment is not indicative of the importance of it. I merely want to suggest directing time that otherwise would have been spent analyzing the past towards time spent preparing for the future.

        I do not say this to guide any distress forward instead of backward. For while anxiety about the past is pointless, worrying about the future is even more so. There are but two reasons to worry about the future: fear and inadequacy. First, fear can be subdued by awareness of potentialities and planning. Once possible problems ahead are recognized and appropriate solutions identified, there is nothing left to be done (though that plan of action is not as easy in practice). Letting go of the past is the first step as it allows the mind to be free to discern and answer puzzles ahead of you.
        Secondly, everyone feels a bit of inadequacy, but that cannot consume you. I say this at the end of every ACME, but I bring it up here to make a point: Give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have. You could not be where you are right now if you did not deserve some measure of confidence. Ignore my advice from the first paragraph and consider your past self for a moment. Are you not smarter and wiser than they were? If they were capable enough to get you this far, is not your future self capable of getting you further? Thus you should feel confident in yourself.

        So, set aside your troubles concerning what is past and what is coming and dedicate that time to assuaging those doubts by focusing on the future.

        And there you go.  I plug along in school; I’m doing all right.  Once again, congratulations to all of you who have really done something amazing this year, whether it’s finishing a degree, getting married, starting a family, finding a new passion in life or any other accomplishment.  But never be satisfied; always strive for more.  Always question, learn, grow; otherwise, what’s the point?
        Enjoy the season, appreciate the little things, and give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have.  Reply to let me know how you’re doing and what you’ve accomplished; wanting to hear from you is half the reason I send this every year.


The requisite joke:

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old woman because she had just gotten married for the fourth time. The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband’s occupation.

“He’s a funeral director,” she answered.

“Interesting,” the newsman thought. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years. After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20’s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40’s, and a preacher when in her 60’s, and now - in her 80’s - a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

She smiled and explained, “I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”


Best wishes, happy holidays,

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