One of my former professors (otherwise known as ‘He who shall not be named’) used the term ‘educated common sense’ regularly and, although it pains me to admit that I agree with something he pontificated about, I do love the term. It’s a great concept that has been around long before he started using it. But first I want to make it clear that common sense itself is a ‘spectrum disorder’. Each person is very different. When someone uses the phrase “She has no common sense”, it really isn’t true. The phrase should be more like “She has very different common sense than I do” or something to that affect. Educated common sense is best used when you need to make a critical decision and requires pulling in experiences and learned insights. That educated common sense is brought to the table to actually influence what you do next. Just remember that experience could also mean an appreciation and respect for someone else’s insights or a set of life lessons far removed from your own day-to-day existence. Consider the advice of a parent, mentor or coach who drilled into your head a respect for a certain obstacle or a specific pitfall. Or experience could mean making a really stupid decision when you were young and getting suspended from high school two months before you were about to graduate. (Don’t ask…) One thing is for sure: educated common sense is not a linear process. It’s much more of holistic process. You don’t use it at trivial, incidental moments. Educated common sense won’t help you find a convenient parking space in a crowded lot. A valet will.
Educated common sense is what you use when you push all your chips onto the table and declare that you are “all in” no matter what anyone else says. You might even say that educated common sense is what you rely on in spite of what anyone else says. That’s what I did when my son Danny was diagnosed with brain damage. I ignored a whole body of evidence – and some very well educated medical professionals – and through it all I stuck to what I believed to be true. Something deep inside told me that although everyone was saying I was looking at a certain situation, something different was taking place. And I listened to my own intuition although not as aggressively as I would today. At this point, I would tell them all to pack sand (ok – that’s the polite version of what I would say) and make a much more decisive and quick decision. That’s what age and self-confidence will do for you. So my advice to everyone is to soak up all the ‘educated common sense’ that you can and have a blast doing it!!!
It’s 3am and I can’t sleep. Not sleeping is nothing new for me but cruising Facebook in the middle of the night is. I spent the last hour looking at pictures of a friend of ours from the Navy who passed away from a heart attack yesterday and tried to remember everyone I knew from those days. His death hit me harder than I expected and I think it’s because the guy was a “larger than life, live life to the fullest” type of guy. And if those types can’t hang on to this life, who can? Awareness of my mortality has once again set in but I’m not sure where to go with it. We all talk about how life is short and we need to remember to hug our children. We preach about having no regrets but it’s so much easier said than done. I’m fully aware that the concept of work-life balance is a myth but that doesn’t help me ease the guilt and stress that threaten to paralyze my productivity and happiness. And lack of sleep, lots of stress and too much Miller Lite is surely not helping lengthen my life span. Ultimately, I think we are all moving through life too quickly and trying to cram too much in at one time. Or maybe it’s just me trying to do too much and having the inability to intelligently prioritize. Maybe I should just take it one step at a time. Like my cleaning lady tells me… ‘Breathe Carol, Breathe’.
ok.. got that.. Now what? It’s 3:45am and I still can’t sleep.
When I get overwhelmed, I become extremely unproductive. In sort of a vapor lock fashion, I become paralyzed by competing priorities. Google, Facebook and Law and Order reruns become my priorities and I get nothing accomplished. It usually takes a few days of panic, tears, and grumpiness to reset but it’s only temporary. What I really need is a working vacation. Stepping outside of my typical environment and focusing on ‘just me’ for even a couple days can do wonders when it comes to perspective and clarity. The hard part is convincing our spouses and children that we aren’t being selfish and will actually be much nicer to be around afterwards. And if all else fails, there is always the dentist. Trapped in a chair is a great place to contemplate priorities!