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Story: Do your Actions Match Your Priorities?



Their dad was a renowned scientist and told his twins early on, that he saw potential for greatness in them; but mostly Karl. Karl was by far the smarter, faster, stronger twin. His brother always looked up to him, and had to strive to achieve what Karl did, even though Marley was only two minutes younger.


Karl was one of the best on Varsity in Basketball and Baseball though he often showed up late to practice. He achieved Valedictorian by doing less than an hour of homework before going out with friends or girlfriends each night.


Since they looked exactly alike, everyone expected Marley to keep up, and he loved hanging out with his brother, so he learned to do one thing to keep up with Karl.


And by doing this one thing, Marley had reached the same stats that colleges looked for, and that people measured as a good life. Each day he asked himself, "What are the few things I need to do today to achieve greatness." Everything else would be ignored if those weren't yet done. And that informed his decisions how he spent his time.


So when Karl was smoking with friends in the parking lot before practice, Marley was practicing free throws. Smoking was the non-contributing activity. And though Karl went out with dozens of girlfriends throughout high school, Marley realized dating a lot was secondary to having a couple deep, like-minded friendships and studying hard.


Karl graduated college, made a family and by all opinions, had a pretty good life. He moved to the suburbs and was an executive for the water company. Whenever Karl wanted something, he bought it. He restored cars in his free time, mostly because some of his buddies did too, but as he aged he realized something was missing from his life: the greatness his father had seen in him.


He had ideas that he thought were brilliant all the time, and he thought he knew how to achieve them, but why had he never accomplished any of them? He often found himself thinking, if I just had a few hours each week to work on them, I could make some of them a reality.


Marley, on the other hand, by strategically reviewing his priorities each day, and declining influences that wouldn't allow him to finish those critical things each day, he made more of the lesser potential he had. He married and put a lot of intention into his marriage. He had one child because he wanted to focus his intention and love to raise a well-balanced child. He got his doctorate, even though he had sweet offers from GMC and Porsche out of college. He focused on what he was good at and what interested him, which led him to invent a type of ear device that could map your thoughts.


His company was keeping it quiet but people who had seen the patents knew that this would mark Marley as a truly great man who influenced the direction of the world.


He knew that it had the potential to be used for harm, so he and his teams had also diligently built the regulations to keep industry's behaviors in line.


But one day, for one of Karl's kids birthdays, Marley and his wife visited Karl's big family. A chaos of children knocked piles of toys off of counters and and the dog barked. Marley stood next to Karl at the counter and said, "Hey, brother--"


Karl's wife yelled at her kids setting the table that the different sets of dishes can't be put on the table at the same time.


Karl looked at him as he sluffed off responsibility to give him his attention.


Marley smiled and continued, "Hey could I show you something?"


Karl, who had grown to greatly admire his younger brother and whatever he was working on, immediately said, "Yeah. I'd love to see it."


They walked into a quiet room, cords tangled across the desk and papers strewn across the floor. "Whatcha got?" Karl asked.


"Here, sit down." Marley pulled two similar-looking dangly devices out of his pocket. "Here put these on." He helped Karl put a small probe into his ears and secure the dangly arm to fit snugly behind his ear.


"Is this the--uh--hearing aid you've been working on?"

"We think of it more as a life aid. But yeah." Marley opened his phone and showed it to Karl. "Here, you can see your brain activity." The screen showed a 3D ghost of a brain, and little streaks of lightning traveling through it.


"Wow. What are you going to use that information for?"


"The question is what are you going to use it for?"


"Like what do you mean? How is this of any use to me?" Karl said.


"Here. I'll show you." Marley pulled open his phone to a chatting app. "Hmm..." He pushed the voice record button as he pointed to a similar device Karl hadn't noticed in his ear and asked, "How have my sleep patterns correlated to what I've eaten this week?"


A paragraph was written before his eyes and then a graph with two crossing lines was drawn. Karl read, "Wait, so your sleep is correlated to your blood sugar?"


"I guess so? That's what this found."


"What else can it do?"


"It can basically analyze any data your brain has access to. It listens to and sees what you experience and it starts to recognize the resulting thoughts in your brain." He sat back against a desk. "This is pre-production-- the news outlets would kill for this-- but would you like to try it out? It needs to calibrate to your brain before it can give you meaningful data but it could probably give you some stuff after about a week."


"Uh, yeah, uh-- sure!" Karl was amazed he had such a coveted technology in his posession. "Is it safe?"


Marley nodded, "Yep! It's just receiving data, it can't send anything into your head."


"Okay! Yeah. I'll do it. Thanks brother."


---

One week later, Karl lay half-way under the covers with a flabbergasted look on his face. He could hear his household's chaos erupting outside his door. He could hear his wife yelling at his kids in the kitchen.


He asked the app, "Why do I feel so angry with my wife?"


It pumped out a paragraph that drew a correlation between his dopamine levels being highly depleted because every time he had an idea he was excited to pursue, something from work or family interrupted it, causing dissatisfaction and anger. It pumped out a graph showing when ideas, usually about things he wanted to do, were introduced and how they quickly extinguished by a nagging child, wife with chores to do, or a work call.


He swallowed and then pushed the record button. He said, "How many hours have I spent doing chores this week?"


It pumped out: "Including making meals, cleaning, fixing appliances, and making 14 other preliminary assumptions, total time was 4 hours, twenty two minutes... daily."


He breathed in again and almost trembling, asked, "How many hours have I spent angry at my wife?"


It calculated for a moment and displayed, "16 hours daily."


He began to think about Marley, and how he always seemed to be at peace with his wife, and how his son was so well behaved. He looked around at the constant mess and thought of Marley's small, tidy condo in the city. He pushed the button and almost trembling said, "How many hours do I think about or fix or maintain things that I have bought?"


A churning hourglass icon later, a bar graph was pumped out which listed 100, no, now 347 material items the device had identified had used up various minutes in his week. The top drains of his mind's energy were 1) House/yard/pool 2) Cars/boat 3) Rental storage.


Now, completely affixed, and even scared of the number he was about to see, he asked, "Estimate how many hours have I spent that did not directly improve my life or those around me?"


It replied, first, with a question, "Would you like to consider pets in this calculation?"


His eyes got large and he winced, thinking about their three dogs he had to walk each day, and which he wouldn't have gotten if his neighbor hadn't pushed them on him. He pushed record, "Don't include pets."


The simple number slowly grew on the screen as it counted up and multiplied to estimate for his 36 years of life.


It told him which decisions about gray lines it was making, and a caveat about his life now perhaps being busier than before kids, etc., but Karl considered how Marley lived his life and agreed with most of the computer's decisions. But when he saw the final number he sat up in his bed and put his head in his hand.


He thought of Marley, and how much he admired him now. He thought back to those years when it was Marley that adored HIM.


He fought off a horrible dismay, "We're twins. I can do this. There is plenty of time left."


He pictured the look on his brothers face when he was so glad to show his big brother what he had been working on. And this gave him hope. His brother loved him enough to support him in this failed reckoning.


He dialed Marley who quickly answered. "Marley. This thing is amazing."


"Really?" Marley was more pleased to hear this from Karl than anyone else in the world.


"I need your help though. I need to regain all the years I have wasted, with cars and house and chores and everything. Of course my family is a priority, but I want to find my greatness too."


Karl waited but no response.


Finally Marley swallowed the knot in his throat. He responded, "You've discovered why I built this, Karl. I want to help people reclaim their lives. And I can't be more pleased that the first person I can help is my big twin brother."


---

What if were strategic about what we filled our lives with? If you so desire, write down a list of things you want your life to be characterized by. And then write a list of distractions are taking you away from accomplishing those things.


-raw spoon, November 26, 2023

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