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Ted Markle: My guide to surviving 2017

Mother knows best
Mother knows best

To aid in my digestion of turkey, nog and family hobnobbing, I attempted a holiday meditation. I sat in the corner of the living room, crossed-legged, in search of inner peace. My ability to focus (never a strength to begin with) was, unfortunately, more hampered than usual.

Ted Markle

After a while, I gave up fighting the Zen-less voices in my head and gave in to them instead!

Much to my surprise, after listening intently to decipher their meaning, the voice (there was only one after all) turned out to be that of my mother. Caught in my mind’s perpetual spin cycle was a collection of her phrases from my childhood.

These pearls became the focus of my reflection. I discovered their hidden meanings and hope they will guide me through the turbulent waters of 2017.

You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on tight! - Mother used this zinger in the mad morning rush when the clock was ticking and mittens, school bag or some other paraphernalia was misplaced. For me this year, this modern-day Upanishad is all about letting go and unscrewing my head. It wouldn’t hurt to lose my noggin once in a while. An un-tightened head is a carefree head.

Takes two to tango. – When I was young, the logic of this phrase eluded me. As we sat apart from one another watching Gilligan’s Island, my devious sister was fond of high-pitched, spontaneous wailing. Mother would poke her head in, dispense instant justice, and use this handy alliteration in response to my pleas of innocence. In 2017, this will keep me mindful to not place upon my shoulders the negative energy of others yearning for a fight. (Unless, of course, it’s my sister…)

Shit don’t stink if you leave it alone. – In more civilized times – when children were banished to an unsupervised basement to play with sharp objects and hide behind oil burners – my mother expressed this insight to any fool who suggested a descent into the underworld to check up on the kids. Her ancient wisdom compares so favourably to the omnipresent child-kings of today who intermingle in our adult world, risking mayhem and cocktail spills. For 2017, this gem will be my motto for avoiding political discourse (if you want to call it that) on Facebook. Perhaps it’s called social media because it is best used for keeping in touch and building connections based upon our shared humanity.

If you had a brain it’d rattle / If you had a thought it’d be lonely. – My mother expressed these interchangeably when faced with my youthful bone-headedness. Their brilliance had remained hidden to me. I am now working on variations for my meditation chant. A single lonely thought would represent transcendent improvement on the boisterous traffic jam that usually occupies my mind and if I ever get my brain to rattle, I will have become a Bodhisattva – guiding others towards enlightenment.

You’ve got two speeds – slow and stop. – You can imagine with my penchant for distraction and limited motor control that my mother could lose her sh*t waiting for me to tie my shoes. My goal in 2017 is to consciously choose either of these paces for each interaction. Thanks to rapid-fire thoughts about what’s coming next or where I need to be, I am less than present far too often. I wish to slow it down – or even stop it – so that each engagement is total, and each moment an expression of gratitude for my good fortune.

Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle

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