Willpower (from Jan 15)

Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once.

– Paulo Coelho

Isn’t this always the way?

It’s all, or nothing.

A very simple example of this seemed to be kids’ parties a few years ago. Both of my children were of that age where everyone in the childcare group or kindergarten class gets invited to the party. For two years in a row it appeared that every child in my daughter and son’s peer group was born between May and September (including them – both in July, but that’s a whole different story). We had five months of nearly back-to-back parties.

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


That’s a LOT of shopping for presents. Presents, mind you, that stay wrapped until the birthday child has gone home … what is that? I like to see the recipient’s reaction to my gift. Plus, surely there’s some social skill practice in opening a gift, saying thank you and showing gratitude even if you have exactly the same toy at home? But I deviate from the topic.

For some odd reason, birthdays seem to be spread more evenly these days. Fewer parties perhaps, although the parties that do happen are frequently clustered. I know there is a ‘school fete season’, but a ‘birthday party season’?

Another example of this ‘all or nothing’ phenomena are assignments and other assessments. Firstly, from the student’s point of view …

As my daughter, and doubtless a host of other Year 7 students, found out last year, assignments all tend to be due at the same time, even if they are handed out during different weeks. There are two plausible reasons for this:

  1. Teachers simply conspire against students to make their life hell as payback.
  2. Assessments are all due just before reporting time. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The second point leads to my ‘all or nothing’ theory of assessment from a teacher’s point of view.

There is either nothing to mark … or a bucket load of marking. Check out Facebook during report-writing terms and you will see a significant increase in posts and memes lamenting the inundation of marking. Then, after report-writing, check again to see the variety of ways celebration is expressed. I fear it must be human nature that leads us to leave everything to the last minute, assessment included. There used to be this thing called ‘continual assessment’ … but you don’t hear that term much any more, mores the pity.

Three more examples:

  • mechanical issues. Has anybody else had their microwave die, followed shortly by their washing machine and then the air-conditioning? All during the holiday season when it is impossible to get someone to fix them quickly. Need I say more?
  • sickness, injury or death. Touchy subject, so I’ll keep it short. These things always seem to come in threes (or multiples of three if you consider the celebrity departure rate of 2016). My family went through a period where we were buffeted with illness and then death … first my aunt, then my dad and, most recently, my grandfather. This all happened several years apart, but in terms of grieving still way too close. I have also, in the last year alone, attended more funerals (family and parents of friends) than I have in my entire life. Fact of life … but I refuse to get used to it.
  • job offers (or rather, the lack of). I have recently started offering my writing and editing services on Airtasker. Lots and lots and lots of offers … a couple of take-ups (which is encouraging and keeps me offering) but in general – nothing. I am just hoping that I don’t get a flood of acceptances now that I am very nearly back at school. All or nothing.

Everything that happens in multiples must test ‘a person’s will’ as Paulo Coelho states. A lot of this is ‘fact of life’ or ‘mere coincidence’. But, at times of boredom and/or frustration, I am inclined to wonder if there is some larger being in control up there who is currently having a huge laugh at my expense.



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