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Dec
28

The Timbuktu Question

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Today’s blog article is for exhorting and empowering us dads and thereby setting an example for health and balance for our kids.

I’m going to use another one of the Great Counseling Analogies — I should do a series (three-armed man, Christmas Bicycle, the Playground, . . – actually I did one on the Playground — it was great and you can read it here http://cwahm.com/2016/articles/series-interruption-for-the-playground/ )

 The analogy involves Timbuktu; a city in Mali . . . which is a country . . . um, in Africa.  I’m not so good at geography — especially geography for different continents.  Which is the point:  Timbuktu used to be the city people would mention when they were talking about somewhere very remote on the ‘other side of the world.’*

 Plus, Timbuktu (Tim – Buck–Too) is fun to say.

 Timbuktu, Timbuktu, Timbuktu.

 But the idea of the analogy is that you consider the question: What you would do if you were starting over with a new life after moving to Timbuktu – the farthest reaches of the world where no one would know you?.

 My wife typically ruins analogies at this early point by asking too many detail questions.  “Why would I move to Timbuktu?”  “Do you get there by boat or did I fly?”

 She’s like that.  The point is – you are starting over.

  • No one would know you there
  • You wouldn’t have easy access to all your old habits
  • You’d have to focus on the basics to start over
  • All your old social connections would be gone

 . . .  You could start fresh

What would you do?

Many people have a desire to make a change, but they think that their current circumstances hold them down; their habits, their job, their feelings, their responsibilities are hurdles to their goals and desires.  A transfer to Timbuktu would thrust you out of all your current excuses for life change.  You may not be able to pick up and move to Timbuktu, but you can give your mind a fresh perspective by thinking this way.

Ask yourself some related questions:

  • If I had to form all new friendships, what would be important to me?  Are these attributes reflected in the friends I have now?

  • What disciplines would I like to include in my life if life didn’t get in the way?  How could I eliminate commitments so that life doesn’t get in the way?

  • I don’t really need much to survive, what could I cut out of my life to make it simpler?

  • What’s my schedule like in Timbuktu – do I sleep in every day or work long hours?

When you start to answer these questions, you can get a new perspective on your current life-state.  Thinking and considering the Timbuktu question is the first step.  Then you need to take action.

In all honesty, having to move to Timbuktu would be easy.  You’d HAVE to do all the things that change your life.  You’d be FORCED, by external circumstances, to make changes.

But, if you’re like me, you don’t like to be forced.  It’s also really hard to imagine how a move to Timbuktu would even be feasible in ‘real life:’

Boss:  Well, we are opening up our Mali office next month and we want you to helm the initiative of the company there.  So pack your bags, you’re moving to Timbuktu!

Rather than wait around for an external stimulus to galvanize you into some Timbuktu changes, you’ll have to do it yourself.

One option is to create an external circumstance of sorts.  You can create a change event.  Pick a date on the calendar and designate it as ‘Timbuktu Day” – the day you make changes.  I always encourage people to plan for a Timbuktu Day in many of the same ways they’d plan for a trip to Mali; tell your friends that you are having a life change, cut out all the unnecessary commitments and downsize stuff you own.  Maybe have a ‘going away’ party to start a new life.

By the way, a Timbuktu Day is a great time to incorporate some of those disciplines that are hard to maintain with a hectic life:  meditate, take some margin, enjoy a Sabbath, and take some of the extra time to read the Bible.

Joshua 1:8

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

I didn’t add that “prosperous and successful” part – that’s 100% Bible

Plan your Timbuktu Day with enough time to start planning for the trip.  Try some new schedules and disciplines now.  And, let me know if you do Timbuktu – either as a real, physical move to Mali (you would be one of my first Dads to actually do it), or as a life change in your current location.

  _________________

Very geeky addendum that I couldn’t resist because of the recent Star Wars movie:  Luke Skywalker needed the Timbuktu Question.  He needed a good reason to be assertive to his Aunt/Uncle and stop whining about Tosche Station and go join the Rebel Alliance.  Don’t wait for a bounty hunter to roast your relatives before following your dreams!

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