10 Leadership Secrets Whispered by Horses

10 Leadership Secrets Whispered by Horses

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Horsemanship and dyslexia

I knew she was in trouble. I was the one that got her there.

I had taken my filly, Mouse, into a round pen for some partnership games. She had always seemed a little wary of me, even though she was born at our place and had never had anything bad happen to her.

A round pen is a perfect place to develop a relationship with a horse. There are no corners to hide in, and the horse can't run too far away. Since a horse is a prey animal…

A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "So, why the long face?"

It's really not a joke. A horse's face is long so that he can still see a long way while he grazes. His eyes are on the side of his head so he can see all the way around him. He is a prey animal. He knows he tastes good. His primary defense against predators is to run.

If a horse chooses to stay on the rail and run away from the predator in the middle, he can do that. It makes him feel safer. But he gets tired. After a while, he'll turn his focus toward the middle of the circle, cock an ear toward me, and eventually drop his head to ask permission to come in. A colt or filly will do the same with his mom in the wild. If the baby is misbehaving, she'll send them away and won't let them come back until they ask politely to rejoin the safety of the herd.

I had played this partnership game with several horses in learning to be a horseman, and I thought I knew what I was doing. I sent Mouse out on the circle, but she never came back. She didn't ask to come back in.

5 laps.

She didn't seem particularly afraid. She just kept up a really fast trot. I tried to take all the energy out of my body, standing with a leg casually cocked. I wanted to show her that it was OK to slow down and come in to me.

10 laps.

I started to worry about how I had gotten her so wound up. Since I am a predator – eyes in the front of my head, a meat eater – I have the power. I have thumbs to open the gate and the food bins. I decide when Mouse has to go play games with me, not the other way around. A horseman understands the differences between him and horse, and it is the horseman's responsibility to build the partnership.

20 laps.

Since I take responsibility for the breakdown in the communication, and the communication isn't happening, I feel bad. And confused. Do I understand horses or not? Do I have what it takes to be a true horseman?

I try stepping back to encourage Mouse to come in. She keeps running. I step in front of her to try to slow her down, but she just changes directions.

30 laps.

My confidence is draining out through my boots and into the sand. I'm upset that I have gotten my little girl upset. I make a decision that didn't immediately solve the problem, but had I done it differently, I wouldn't have learned the lesson. I pulled out my phone and called my wife.

If had just stepped out of the pen and went in the house to ask for house, Mouse would have calmed down, and all would have been OK – temporarily.

40 laps.

By the time Nancy got out to see me, my tears of frustration were welling up. She sized up the situation immediately and saved me with two words.

"Kneel down."

I went to my knees. The tears dropped into the dirt.

I was NOT thinking, "Boy, this is going to make a good TED talk someday."

Mouse stopped running almost immediately. Within 30 seconds, she came over to me and took my hat off. Without lifting my head, I reached up and petted her.

Nancy said, "You're too big for her."

I had picked up and cradled this filly in my lap about an hour after she was born. I had seen her every day of her life. Why should she be afraid of me? She outweighed by about 100 pounds. I thought I was her loving Dad. But I was too big for her.

Once I came down to her level – and below – I felt the redemption of forgiveness.

"All is forgiven, Dad. Let's go learn something."

That episode of misunderstanding took a place in a single afternoon, but I want to change gears and tell about another story of misunderstanding that lasted for years.

My grandson, Charlie, hated school. He had a hard time reading and spelling. Math was easier, but still difficult.

Charlie's parents both work hard and didn't have the energy to make Charlie do his homework. It fell to Nancy and me to work with him on his homework. Sometimes Charlie would be doing fine, and then for some mysterious reason, he would melt down and the session would end in tears. He would run away, and we would physically carry him back to the table.

We tried to use our horsemanship techniques. We would not get angry (or try not to), and just offer Charlie a good deal and wait for him to settle down and do the work.

Practice passive persistence in the proper position, as our horsemanship guru Pat Parelli would say. Pat like's P's.

Schoolwork was difficult for all of us.

One night, early in Charlie's third grade year, he and I were working on some reading. I read a sentence and Charlie read a sentence.

When we got done, Charlie said,

"Wow! Look at those y's!"

I could not see what he meant. But he showed me. See "cry" in sentence 5, and the "my" in six. And below that, the "y" in Grandaddy forms a straight line.

My thought was "This kid sees the world differently than I do." Just like my horse. My brain was interpreting the squiggles of ink on the page as words that represent ideas, and things, and emotions. Charlie saw patterns in the letters.

I ran to my computer and Googled, "on-line dyslexia test." I found a list of 31 symptoms with an explanation that a typical child with dyslexia will have about 10 of these symptoms. Nancy and I counted 18 or 19 with Charlie.

As we learned more about dyslexia, we learned why Charlie has such a hard time reading. He really does perceive the world differently than we do. FMRI scans show that when a "normal" person reads, certain centers are activated in the brain. In a person with dyslexia, those centers are quiet. For whatever reason, they don't work. So, when we thought Charlie was being lazy or recalcitrant for not reading, his brain was actually working extra hard to try to make sense of the ink squiggles on the page.

Here's what breaks my heart and is the big lesson for me. With the horse, I knew that we saw the world differently. And it's easy to understand that a horse is different from me. And since I have the power, it was my responsibility to bridge the gap of understanding so that we can learn and play together.

However, I did NOT know that Charlie saw the world differently. Because we are both human, it was easy to assume that we saw the same way. I still had the power. But, I placed all the responsibility for learning on HIM. And it was hard. On that child that I love so much.

The horse can deal with stress by running away. All Charlie could do was cry and melt down.

How many interactions do we have with people when we assume they see the same way we do? How many times do those differences cause problems? It's not just a difference of opinion or level of knowledge. We see the world differently. As adults, we can share the responsibility of trying to understand each other.

But with kids, we must take on the responsibility to understand how each one may be different and how to best teach them.

Once I understood that I was too big for Mouse, I could approach her hunched or bent over. As our partnership grew, I didn't have to do that any more and she grew to trust me.

"All is forgiven, Dad. Let's go learn something."

Nancy is tutoring Charlie in his reading with a program designed for people with dyslexia. I am working on his math using multisensory manipulatives. Charlie's school makes accommodations by doing things like having someone read him the questions on his standardized tests. Now that we know, we can help Charlie learn and thrive and grow.

"All is forgiven, Papa. Let's go learn something."

Whispered By Horses with Penelope Trunk

 

 


http://WhisperedByHorses.com

 

When planning for this week’s show with Penelope Trunk, my theme was about being vulnerable. As usual, I started the show with a horse story. This week’s story was about putting myself in a situation with a horse where I was the vulnerable partner.

I chose this topic because Penelope is often brutally honest about her own perceived shortcomings in her blog. I wanted to find out why she could announce her insecurities to the world when the rest of us tend to hang onto them and don’t share them with even close friends.

But a funny thing happened during the show. We ran out of time just when we hit on the real topic we needed to talk about. We started talking about what it is like to perceive the world differently than other people. Penelope, her son, and other people in her family have Asperger’s syndrome, which is kind of like being a high-functioning autistic. (Penelope, if this is not an accurate assessment, please correct me in the call-in show.) In any case, Penelope sees and understands the world differently than most of us do, and she is constantly trying to see how she fits with the rest of us.

This resonates with me because so much of my philosophy of horsemanship contains knowledge that horses perceive the world differently than we do. We get along with them better when we try to see the world through their eyes. Learning to put yourself in another’s position is an important skill. I believe that most of our human conflicts are caused because we assume that the other person sees the world in the same way we do. If we can learn to see the world from another person’s point of view, as working with horses forces us to do, we will get along a whole lot better.

Penelope is CEO of The Brazen Careerist, http://www.brazencareerist.com/, and she writes a blog with 40,000 subscribers, http://blog.penelopetrunk.com.

I hope that you will join us on our live call-in show on Tuesday, October 6 at 8:00 PM Eastern time. I am looking forward to a really interesting show.

 

2009 Equine Olympics


 I have enjoyed Brian Reed and Brenda Lee's videos in the past, but this one must be shared. I hope it goes viral.

2009 Equine Olympics from Brian Reid & Brenda Lee on Vimeo.

I want a horse like Brenda Lee, and I am going out to start digging a pond in my back yard so I can swim with my horses.

(May not work that well in the desert, though)

http://www.horsesknowthewayhome.com/

 Please leave a comment.

Whispered By Horses with Stewart Raven

 


http://WhisperedByHorses.com

If you have listened to one of my shows, you have heard that moving and haunting intro music. This week, I talk to Stewart Raven Smith who wrote and performed that little piece.

I asked Stewart to be on the show because we connected music and horses in a couple of ways. First of all, skills that seem amazing to a beginner are really just the result of really hard work as much as it is talent. Secondly, Stewart and I find a certain peace and spirituality in our chosen endeavors. With Stewart’s music and my horses, we each find we can get into a meditative state that seems magical. With these connections, I knew we would put together a great show.

I can hardly wait for the call-in show on Tuesday, September 22 at 8 PM EDT. There were several items that Stewart and I talked about that I want to dig into deeper, but we just don’t have time in a fifteen minute show.

I hope you can join us. 

You can’t go back to square one.

 

I read a post on Seth Godin’s blog today that I wanted to reply to on his blog, but I couldn’t figure out how to reply. Maybe he doesn’t need to hear from us, but  I wanted to reply.

Here is a link to Seth’s blog post:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/09/square-one-is-underrated.html

And here is Seth’s post in its entirety:

Square one is underrated

Perhaps the worst outcome most people can imagine when a project stutters is having to go, "all the way back to square one."

Apparently, square one is an unhappy place, and far away, too.

Hey, if you’re lost, if you’ve gone down the wrong road, it doesn’t make sense to speed up and keep racing down the wrong road. Instead, the smart thing is to go back to the last spot you were in where you had a chance to find the right road and start from there.

Square one: nicer than people expect.

Yes, it is discouraging to have to start over, but I would contend that it is not possible to go back to square one. Even if you throw everything away, and start all over, you are not back at the place you were when you originally started. When you started at the original square one, you didn’t know the problems you would encounter. You learned something during the project, even if it’s just to avoid the same mistakes.

When you start over at the new square one, you are actually further along than when your foot stepped off the first square one. The journey you took along squares two, three, and beyond led you to learn something. That path was not a failure, just a necessary detour. It led you to the new square one.

So, Seth, if you’re listening, rethink your blog and come join me on a new square one.

 

7,775. Do I wait for 7,777?

 

About a month ago, I wrote a post about how we like to celebrate numbers with a pattern, like 12:34:56 7/8/9. Or it’s fun to watch an odometer change from 99,999 to 100,000. (See that post here) I implied that we are all a little silly for liking to see "interesting" numbers.

So, what do I do tonight? Right now, I have 7,775 Twitter followers. Sometime during the night, I will probably pass 7,777. That would be a cool number to see.

It’s now 10:30. How long do I wait to get two more followers? If I go to bed, it will probably be past 7,780 by morning.

Why am I even considering this? I KNOW exactly what my Twitter screen will look like. It won’t be a surprise, but I want to see it.

Now, that I say that it makes me feel kind of strange. It’s not like I’ll win a slot machine jack pot. It’s just a number.

A few months ago, my friend, Shecky (@ReallyShecky), sent a tweet announcing that he was at 7,777. I looked at his profile. It said, 7,776. Someone must have unfollowed him in those couple of minutes. A few minutes later, it was 7,778. Would anyone think I was weird that I temporarily unfollowed Shecky so that I could see 7,777 on his profile? Then followed him back?

I think I am going to appeal to my higher reason and go to bed.

If anyone sees my profile at 7,777, take a screen shot and send it to me. @JayKoch.

—————————-

45 minutes later:

 

I couldn’t stand it. I stayed up. @JaneWMeade and @amerisud both followed me, but I got up to 7,776. Go figure. But, this was my 7,777th:

Ain’t that a hoot?

 Thankfully Britney went away and Ian was my REAL 7,777th!

Let’s hope Ian stays and Britney stays AWAY!!!

Now, I can go to bed.

 

An Angel of a Different Sort

When I interviewed Rabbi Shai Specht on my radio show a few weeks ago, he taught me about angels. Reb Shai said that in hebrew, the word for "angel" is often translated as "messenger." I learned that anyone or anything that brings you a message you need to hear is an angel.

An angel tapped me on the head tonight, but I am still puzzling over what she is trying to tell me.

There is a spider that lives above my desk. Three or four times over the last week, she has dropped down in front of my face while I am sitting here at my computer. I reach up to touch her and she scurries back up her invisible lifeline. She sits motionless for a long time after that. Maybe she thinks I can’t see her. Maybe she was afraid and has to recuperate.

Maybe I am anthropomorphizing more than a little bit. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe the lesson I am supposed to learn has less to do with the spider herself and more to do with how I perceive her actions. There’s probably not much consciousness in that little spider brain and she is acting purely from instinct. But, it’s human nature to see patterns and meaning that aren’t really there, so I’m going with the anthropomorphizing.

When I tweeted about my little friend this week, someone asked if her name was Charlotte. I guess that is as good a name as any, although I haven’t seen her write anything in English in her web.

This evening, Charlotte seems intent on extending her web down from the upper corner of the room. TWICE, she has come down and touched me on the head. When I looked up, she scurried back up. Maybe she thought my bald head was a big, shiny rock. She came down in front of my face and spread all of her legs and twisted from her thread as if trying to sense something around her to grab onto. I reached up with my index finger to touch an outstretched leg. For a moment, she grabbed on, but sensed danger and skedaddled back up.

A couple of minutes later, she came down about halfway from the ceiling to my eye level and spread herself out again. This time, I reached up and held my finger an inch from Charlotte. When she sensed my presence, she pulled all of her legs in as tight as she could, but didn’t climb up.  I pulled my finger away from her when my arm got tired, but watched for another while. She eventually climbed lazily back up into the safety of the established web.

OK. You may not believe what I tell you next, but I am not making this up.

When I finished my description of my interaction with Charlotte, I clasped my hands behind my head and leaned back in my chair, and said out loud to Charlotte, "What are you here to tell me?" At that moment, I saw a small moth-like creature flitting around the ceiling in seemingly random movements. I was hoping it would get caught in Charlotte’s web. It was almost like waiting for a roulette ball to fall into the slot of the number I placed a bet on. Eventually that random movement bumped that moth into the web about two inches from Charlotte. Oh, boy! Charlotte is going to have a meal.

She reacted, but it wasn’t enough. The web did not hold the moth. It fell down and stopped on the wall momentarily near me. "You escaped this time, Buddy." Suddenly, I’m talking to insects and arachnids.

The moth was not content to stay still. He seemed oblivious to his near death experience. What do you expect? He’s a moth. He zigged and zagged his way up the wall. It may have seemed like a long time in moth time, but it was just a couple of seconds to me. When he reached the ceiling, he got caught in old cobwebs. I thought, "Fine, he got caught in the old stuff, and didn’t become a meal for my buddy, Charlotte." At least I wasn’t talking out loud this time. (No comments about my housekeeping and allowing the old cobwebs to stay, please.)

I was surprised at what happened next, but probably not as dismayed as the moth. I thought all of the webs up there were from dead spiders. But the granddaddy long legs sprung into action, snatched the moth, and immediately wrapped him up. Several of the eight legs grabbed and spun that moth. He would wrap for a few seconds, then pull the moth to his mouth for a second before spinning him around again. Eventually, the spider stopped wrapping and left his quarry an inch or so away. Figuring the show was over, I went back to my writing here. Now, the spider has pulled the moth carcass close to him. I see no movement, but I am guess he is eating. Or maybe just waiting for later.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is oblivious to her missed meal and the feast the long legs is having two feet away. And, now that I look, I see that in all those cobwebs, I see that there are actually several live spiders in that mess up in my corner.

So, what are my angels trying to tell me? I confess I don’t know yet. Maybe I need to learn Charlotte’s patience and not be upset at "the one that got away." Or maybe it’s that random movement without direction can be fatal. Maybe I’m supposed to learn to see that there is a lot of life and energy going on over my head (literally) that I am not aware of, but should be.

Maybe another lesson will come to me later as I think about it, but here’s what I am figuring out right now. Those spiders barely have a concept that I am here, if at all. I am just part of the environment, and they may not perceive me as alive at all. They are not here to teach me. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t learn something.

I always talk about how my horses teach me more than I ever teach them. But, my spiders have shown me that even though the intent to teach is not there, it doesn’t mean they can’t teach me something. When I go out to work with a horse, I intend to teach him something. In our session, he may learn something, but that horse doesn’t care if I learn anything. He’s just trying to get along from one moment to the next. But, I can learn from his actions. He is my teacher, but his intent is not to teach. I learn from what happens in our interaction, but only if I am willing to open up and accept the lesson.

There is a joke I have seen on Twitter several times, but I laugh very time: I was wondering why the Frisbee was coming at me, then it hit me.

Now, I see that I can learn something from the Frisbee (Duck or catch it), but it has no intention of teaching me. It’s just flying minding its own business when I get in the way.

So if horses and spiders are my unwitting angels, what else is out there that I can learn from? What else is flying along, oblivious to me, but if I pay attention, I can learn something from it? How do I learn to pay better attention?

Whispered By Horses with Catherine Grison


http://WhisperedByHorses.com

Catherine Grison and I had fun chatting about meditation, feng shui, and – of course – horses on the Whispered By Horses show this week.

I approached Catherine about being on my show because she wrote a blog post about "How to (Not) Meditate." She said that it’s possible to try too hard to meditate. She also said that she had to do several takes of the video. I asked her if she was trying too hard to make the video.

Catherine’s musings on meditation made me realize that I ride better when I don’t try too hard to ride "perfectly." But, when I relax and stop trying, I actually ride better.

There is something magical about finding the "sweet spot" or being "in the zone." Whether it’s horsemanship, volleyball, or meditation, it takes practice and repetition to gain the experience and knowledge to be able to slip into that zone. But that perfect moment is so wonderful that it is worth the time and effort to get there.

Please listen to our show. Listen to me struggle to say Catherine’s name correctly. I’ll probably never be able to say "French Shui" correctly.

Catherine and I will be on a live call-in show on Tuesday evening, August 25 at 8 PM EDT. I hope you can join us.

 

Whispered By Horses with Guest Sarah Robinson


http://WhisperedByHorses.com

Sarah Robinson calls herself the Maverick Mom. Here is what she says on her blog http://www.themaverickmom.com:

What I know now is that this small blog has a very BIG JOB to do – actually two big jobs: 1) serve as witness my own “escape” from the world of mediocrity – both personally and professionally and 2) inspire others to do the same – if they feel that pull.

Sarah was anything BUT mediocre on this week’s radio show. I highly recommend that you take fifteen minutes to listen to her interview.

If you don’t have time now, download this fifteen minute show, put it on your iPod, and listen to it on the way to the grocery store. It will brighten your day and lighten your step.

With Sarah’s permission, I am re-posting her blog, "Failing Sucks". She says that she has had more comments on this post than any other:

Failing Sucks

August 12th, 2009

We’ve all heard it from the guru’s right? “Take big risks!” “Fail early. Fail often.” “When you fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.”

And for the most part, I agree with these sentiments. The only problem is, no one ever talks about how much failing SUCKS and what to do about it so you CAN pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Here’s the thing: as entrepreneurs we pour our hearts and souls into what we do. Of course we are risk takers – how could we work for ourselves if we weren’t? So when we take a big risk – everything in us is on the line. Which works out great if the risk pays off.

But what about when it doesn’t pay off?

I recently lived through this experience and I am here to tell you it can be gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I wanted something very very badly. I thought I had my bases covered. I put all my chips on the table – my smarts, my heart and my soul – and I hoped for the best.

But it didn’t work out. Not only did it not work out, it blew up spectacularly in my face. And it felt horrible.

Prevailing advice is that I should have been able to shake it off, get up and keep on trekking. And I’ve been able to do after many failures – trust me.  But this time I just couldn’t. My heart was too heavy and my spirit was busted. But I also knew I had to choose between moving forward somehow and throwing in the towel.

Walking The Grid

Photo by Simon Scott

Photo by Simon Scott

I can’t remember where I first heard it, but when I find myself in situations where I really don’t know what to do next, where I feel like I am grappling in the dark, where my heart just isn’t in taking one more step, the phrase “just walk the grid” always comes to mind

I have a feeling that I’m not the only person out there who struggles to find a foothold after failing and I’m hoping this idea might offer some help.

The whole premise of walking the grid is based on two things: 1) some structured routine and 2) keeping things very very simple. Each person’s grid will look different, but here are some pieces of mine to give you some ideas:

  1. I walk – every single morning. Whether I feel like it or not. In fact, the less I feel like it, the more insistent I am about going. 30 minutes minimum – longer if I can.

  2. I check in with a trusted friend or colleague every day. Not the same friend or colleague every day because I want to keep as many of those as I can. Sometimes I talk about what’s going on with me; sometimes I can bring myself to actually inquire about them (when I’m walking the grid, I can be kinda self-centered).

  3. I reduce my commitments as best I can. Getting back to full speed takes time and energy and I want to give myself as much of that as I can.

  4. I write first thing every morning. Dumping out what’s bothering me onto paper helps keep it from eating away at me all day. (And a side benefit is I usually get a really great NEW idea while I’m writing – eventually.)

  5. I try to eat well and not survive on coffee alone.

  6. I give priority to working on the projects that make me feel really good, really smart and really talented. Same goes for people I talk to.

  7. I read books by authors who make me feel better. My favorites when I am walking the grid are Julia Cameron, Martha Beck and Anne Lamott.

  8. I nap a lot. (Ok – I nap a lot anytime I can. Walking the grid just gives me a really good reason.)

  9. I cry. Yes it’s true. If the experience is heart-wrenching enough, I’ll probably cry more than once. And don’t say it’s just because I’m a girl.

  10. I take small actions. As soon as I can I take small baby steps toward something that feels like it might be right. Baby steps feel simple and doable. As they accumulate, though, I find myself creating forward momentum once again.

Sometimes I can zip through walking the grid in a couple of days and I’m good to go. Other times, it may take me weeks or even a few months of walking the grid to feel like I am on solid ground.

Failing isn’t permanent and the fact that I failed to get something I really wanted doesn’t mean that I am a failure. But taking the time to acknowledge that the experience was painful is a gift of respect I can give myself.

What are some simple, structured ideas you would add to The Grid?

Does anybody really know what time it is?

 About a month ago, I received a Tweet that said,

"It’s 12:34:56 7/8/9! It only happens once!"

Some else wrote back that actually it happened twice, both AM and PM. And I pointed out that it happened twice in each of the 24 time zones around the world.

That was on July 8, 2009. But there are large parts of the world that say that today is 7 August, 2009 and today’s date is also 7/8/9. So that string of consecutive digits happened again twice in twenty four time zones today.

Hmm. Not so special.

Here’s something else that happens EVERY DAY, twice a day in 24 time zones: 12:34:56.789! Wow!

The original Tweeter was right about one thing, though. That afternoon moment a month ago did only happen once. Just like right, now at 9:57:43 PM MDT on August 7, 2009 only happens once. And, now its, 9:57:58. Both of those moments only happened once.

But, this really got me to thinking about how and why it’s deep in our psyches to celebrate arbitrary milestones. Babe Ruth was the first to hit 700 home runs. When he did, it was a big deal. But, guess what? He was also the first to hit 699. And 698. And 697. Why did folks get excited because that 700th had two zeroes? It turned out that the really important home run was number 714, the last one the Babe hit. But no one knew that at the time. For some reason, a pitcher that retires with 299 wins does not seem as special as one with 300.

My parents had their 50th anniversary five years ago. Big celebration. Since then, they have had 51, 52, 53 ,54, and next week 55. Ho-hum. No one notices. (I do: Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!) Nancy and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage in two days by maybe going out to dinner. Or staying in and watching a movie. But, we’ll probably have a party on our 25th. Actually, we will probably celebrate more on our 30th anniversary of when we met at 25 cent beer night at a baseball game 30 years ago on August, 31, 1979. But, that’s a whole other story…

I was disappointed when I missed watching the odometer on my truck turn from 99,999 to 100,000. Why? I knew exactly what it would look like both before and after. And there was no difference between mile 99,999 and 100,000, except that was the moment that my extended warranty expired.

Again, why? What is it about markers with zeroes on the end or consecutive numbers that is appealing to us?

Some people go wacky with the numbers, which is even wackier when the numbers are arbitrary and made up. Many centuries ago people decided that a new year started on January 1. Nothing cosmic. Just a convention. But some people thought the end of the world would happen on 1/1/2000. (Or at least the computers would blow up.) Some people got all mystical and misty eyed at 07:07:07 7/7/7. It was no accident that the Beijing Olympics started on 8/8/8. There’s nothing magical about those numbers. Nature very seldom adheres to the decimal numbering system (except that we use it because of the number of our fingers). If nature had been kind to people who calculate interest, the year would be 360 days long, not 365.25, so we could have 12 thirty day months.

The ancient Bablylonians were the first to divide our day into 24 hours and further subdivide them into 60 minute hours and 60 second minutes. These are numbers that work well because they are divisible evenly in so many different ways, but they are still made up numbers. It used to be that noon was when the sun was directly overhead in your town. It became too hard to figure out train schedules if every town had a different noon, so we made up standard time and divided the world into a couple dozen time zones. And, then, just for grins, we all agree (except for Arizona) that we just move our clocks an hour twice a year for daylight savings time. An arbitrary move that we all agree to.

But, we still take notice of 12:34:56 7/8/9, even though it is a completely made up number.

Go figure.

I don’t know why we celebrate the big round numbers. Maybe it’s the seeming specialness of the numbers that cause us to stop and reflect about where we are and what we have accomplished. It’s good to stop and reflect and celebrate occasionally. We decide to do this together has a culture, which is a good thing. We decide that on the fourth Thursday of the eleventh month each year that the Cowboys and Lions play football, but not against each other, while we over eat turkey (that we seldom eat any other time) and stop to count our blessings, and even Burger King closes for the day. We have decided that the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox is a day we hide colored plastic eggs filled with chocolate for our children to find, followed by a large midday meal, and maybe a parade with fancy bonnets. Oh, yeah: Many of us have also decided that Easter is a day of great religious significance.

I started this essay as a lark about numbers and numerology, but thinking about why we celebrate at the times we do makes me wonder why we don’t celebrate each moment we have. As I said above, this moment right now will not come again. And I am celebrating that my parents have been married 54 years and 357 days, and that I am lucky at the age of 18,778 days I still have both of my parents. I am looking forward to my 18,779th day tomorrow. I’m lucky to have been married to the same wonderful woman for 22 years, 363 days and three hours. I’m happy that my truck is still trucking at 141,368 miles. And I take comfort in knowing that at some time after 12:00:00.000 it will again be 12:34:56.789.

Every moment counts. Celebrate now. Notice this moment right now, not just the ones with consecutive digits. Be here now. The moment just past won’t come again, and I expect to make the most of all the moments I have left.