51. The real lessons begin when you start pushing buttons

If we were to skip forward to many years from now, when Benny’s head becomes a lot greyer, we could find him not-quite recollecting (although it was more than a vague feeling) that throughout his time here he occasionally struggled to disengage from pernicious procrastination. He generally didn’t feel that he could be labelled in any serious way as a serial procrastinator, but admitted that he had sometimes taken on some of its diversionary tactics — reprioritising a to-do list (even just an internal one), having his ‘distraction’ antenna activated (unintentionally, he would have said) and other habitual tools that served to widen the gap between intention and action. But I’d have to say that his admission was really only to an intermittent and minor struggle — after all, as time is spent along this twisty way he seems to have achieved quite a lot; well, a lot of the sorts of achievements I’m more focused on.

But if anything, I think Benny’s ‘struggle’ to combat what he picked up as a certain dithering on his part had more to do with that internal prompting he heard (sorry — well, not really) to get on with the tasks at hand; or not just tasks, but anything he comes across really. It’s not that time is short, but it’s just — well, it is time after all, and that tends to pass no matter what he does or doesn’t do.

Those achievements that were mentioned? He had brought this sort of thing up before, and coined the concept, I remember, in terms of the sort of subjects good friends would talk about were they to make a speech about him. And these he imagined would have to be about qualities that are very removed from, say, taste in music, style of clothes and all the ‘surface’ trappings, and be more about their personal connections and both good and bad shared times.

And that’s the point, isn’t it. Because it’s the pithy middle, the personal experiences that really stand out, of course… are central to any aspiration to bed down the views and guidances gleaned along the way. It’s like when anyone gets a new appliance… you can only learn so much from the instruction brochure or webpage; the real lessons begin when you start pushing buttons.

But from in here I am keen to not let Benny stray into a conceptual zone where these efforts are regarded as being about self-improvement and becoming a ‘better’ person — he already is a better person, and it has nothing to do with the self. So much of our musings over all the time we’ve been travelling so far have been about making connections, with other people and with his own person. Anything else, although necessary, just doesn’t seem as central.

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