The Helter-Skelter Mindset
Locally and Globally

We are attempting to come to terms with the world in which we live. Our world is divided into two major parts. Our local world and our global world. At the local level, not everything is coming up roses. We all have personal, medical, professional, and educational issues. Sometimes any one of the issues can be daunting.

Our global world is just a macrocosm of our local one. Everyone in the world is concerned about what is happening in Ukraine. However, on the other side of the world, Myanmar is dealing with a military junta, which seized power two years ago and is off most people’s radar screens.

Nonetheless, Myanmar is the home of my family, and it is never off my radar screen. I wrote to Ti Ti, giving her another of my helpful litany of suggestions.

Ti Ti,

PaPa Al has two ideas from which he thinks you will benefit. One idea you dissed a couple of times. The other idea, I have never mentioned.

Now, the Chinese venerate people my age. There aren’t a lot of them around because that would make them as old as the hills. Those still breathing are seen as wise. Now, I’m wise, but my wisdom comes from learning from my mistakes.

Interestingly, my two suggestions are related. So, are you ready for my flash of wisdom?

Go to DIANA HESTER INTERVIEW. I did that interview two decades ago. I want you to read it and mull over the thoughts of Diana Hester. Why would PaPa Al want you to read that interview? How could what she spoke about to me assist you on your journey down your yellow brick road of life?

Now, for my pièce de resistance. If I didn’t write down that interview, I would have forgotten about it. While I was teaching this week, I mentioned it to the class. I reread the interview. I forgot 75% of what I read. Okay, perhaps it was closer to 90%.

Going back to the mid to late nineties, my web page is a highly accurate history of where I was and what I thought during those years. What percentage of my thoughts and ideas I could recall today had I not had all those words and pictures on my website?

Are you still awake? I’m getting to the point of this email…finally. You are a remarkable young lady. I want you and the world to have an accurate account of your thoughts, ideas, concerns, etc. I am serious about how I see you. You are amazing. I don’t want you to reach my age without your written history.

So, set aside 15-minutes to jot down what you deem important during last week and a picture or two. Next Sunday, do the same thing. Now, it won’t be long before your computer’s hard drive looks like this:

There is one other item. When you mention PaPa Al, use adjectives like debonair, suave, charming, man about town, cute, etc.

Thus, endeth this brief email.


PaPa Al

After I wrote to Ti Ti, I received an email from Moh Moh. I had written to her about my concern for my three granddaughters. This is one paragraph from Moh Moh that haunts me.

As for girls, actually, I’m worried too. If the situation with the Coup does not change, kids futures would be returned to the dark ages. However, hope that at the end of dark tunnel, there is a light.

As I thought about Moh Moh and my concerns, I thought back to driving around Yangon with Moh Moh one day. We were going to see her mother. She happened to mention the 8888 Uprising. She was around nine years old and recalled wondering whether there would be enough food for breakfast when she woke up the next day. Talk about a haunting memory.

I thought about Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. He was talking about how to live life with this maxim, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Less than a year later, Pausch died of pancreatic cancer. Often life doesn’t seem fair. Regardless, look at the cards that are dealt you. Play the cards you find in your hand. Complaining about it is counterproductive.

I want Ti Ti to play her hand. Some of her cards, living in the midst of a military coup, aren’t fair. She can complain, or she can climb out of the chaos. I know what my granddaughter will do. Ti Ti will climb.

Climbing toward greatness

Greatness is never achieved without pain. Actually, pain is beneficial. It forces one to act. Unless one acts, one will stew in their juices. Each of us has a choice. While we can’t control the cards dealt us, we can choose to act.

Name any great leader and research that person. You will find that person had a huge plateful of problems. The greater the problems, the greater the person is. Instead of sitting around bemoaning life, carpe diem.

The primary approach is to identify the actual problem that you are facing. That is critical. Acting upon a misdiagnosed problem won’t resolve the basic issue that you are facing. What is the problem that is causing you the helter-skelter mindset?

A helter-skelter mindset

Then run your preliminary diagnosis past a trusted friend. Listen to the second party’s observation. If you missed a couple of issues or concerns, add them to the understanding that you are facing.

Next, evaluate several strategies that might resolve your problem. What is the cost-to-benefit ratio for you with your potential approaches?

We could do this….

Then develop a plan of attack by outlining a sequence of steps to realize your objective. When you hit an obstacle, rethink that part of the strategy. Modify it and continue on.