It starts with five simple words:


And then it comes. The music builds. Lightning from the sky strikes the man with the upraised sword. Does it hurt him? Just listen to what he says next:


You remember. Electric bolts of pure energy crackle around his muscled body. Hands that can punch through solid steel grip the sword that transformed the bumbling prince into the most powerful man in the universe. You remember the way it felt to grab hold of a plastic sword or a stick or even empty air and say those same words: I have the power.

We all want the power. But the world seems to be short on magic swords these days. Believe me, I've checked. (You think I'd be writing this if I had a magic sword? No way. I'd be out battling shadow beasts and seven-headed monsters, saving nubile red-haired maidens from guys with skulls for faces.)

So what do we do? Well, I suppose you can grow a mustache and build weapons devices and adopt an orphan who grows up to be captain of the guards. But let's face it. Not everyone can grow mustaches. And even if you can, do you really want to? Basically the only people who can have mustaches without looking silly are those who've always had mustaches. (Having a mustache attached to a beard doesn't count, by the way. It's still just a beard. That's a whole other story.) It's something set from the time of adolescence, something you have to choose. Either you're a mustache guy or you're not. Once you've decided, it's locked in. (It works both ways, too. Suddenly you shave off your mustache and bam! You've got a lip coming from nowhere. Scary.)

Okay. You don't have a magic sword, or a mustache, or skill with weapons or space technology in a barbarian sorcery world. You can't be He-Man or Man-At-Arms. I'll assume that, like me, if you can't do any of the above, you also cannot fly, ram into buildings with your head, or transform into a mystical falcon. Is this reason to despair? Will your life be meaningless from now on?

The answer to all of these questions is: NO! You can have the power without the magic sword. No, I don't mean you'll be able to pick up Castle Grayskull and throw it into the air using your bulging muscles. I'm talking about the real power that He-Man wields. His morality.

Fast forward to the end of the show. The battle with Skeletor was fought and won. Old skullface runs off, shaking his hands in the air, vowing eternal revenge. Like we're scared. Next time we'll just beat him again. No matter who he brings along! (By the way, who has a skull instead of a face? How can he even see without eyeballs?) After all that the show should be over, right?

Wrong! Now comes the most important part. The moral.

You've heard the expression, "the moral of the story." No doubt your 11th grade English teacher had you combing all the pages from "Call me Ishmael" to "Finis" so you could explain, in your own words, just what Moby Dick really meant. He-Man would never lead you on such a pointless chase. At the end of every single episode, He-Man (or one of his faithful and heroic friends) tells you plainly and simply what you should know about how to live a good and happy life. That knowledge, my friends, is real power. With it you can master the universe. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cleanlines is next to...

Orco doesn't keep a very tidy room. He tries to clean it up with magic and just ends up making it worse. It would just be simpler for him to pick everything up by hand (by floating, arm-less glove, I mean) but he would rather try for the easier way out. Even if it ends in a clutter bomb.

Orco isn't just avoiding the physical activity of cleaning. He's avoiding the mental task. The mental task involves choosing where things are to go, to be sure - but usually things have their pre-arranged place. The harder mental tasks are making choices of priority: what to do first, what the best way is to do it. Engaging in these mental tasks requires you to visualize doing the task; this can be harder than the work itself. It suddenly seems like so much work. Oh, how unpleasant it will be to gather all that dirty laundry. Oh, I hate washing the windows. Oh, my toy box is full - wherever will I find the space? And on and on. He gets caught in a feedback loop.

Some people handle this part easily, because they don't think about it much. Others worry. I think Orco is one of the latter.

So instead he would rather not think about it. He'd rather throw out a magic spell and hope that it takes care of itself. It rarely does.

Orco needs to learn to think about something without worrying about it. This is no easy feat, and he doesn't have any magic shortcut up his sleeve for help with this.

Here's my advice, Orco: write out a plan. Don't let your mind wander over all the unpleasant possiblities. List each general task you need to complete: put stuff away, make your bed, throw garbage out. If you need to, make a more detailed sub-category (put stuff away would involve: 1) putting back priceless Eternian jewels from Queen Marlena's personal collection; 2) giving back to Man-At-Arms his shrinking ray.)

Once you have your plan in place, stop thinking about it, start doing it, and check each item off as you go down the list. Presto! No more worry.

One important point: if you run into trouble (like, say, Man-At-Arms is currently lurking in his labaratory and you'd rather not be seen returning his Shrinking Ray because you didn't exactly ask permission to borrow it) don't start worrying. Simply repeat the above process all over again. Consider your objective, and write down the best plan for achieving it.

Once this becomes habit, Orco may not need to go through the formal process of writing it down. His mind will work toward solutions instead of worry.

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