Steve Bivans

Author, Fear-Less Life & Self-Publishing Coach

Past n Future, Rats n Roaches: being Part III of the Tick, Tock Series

[the following is a sequel to Tick, Tock, Not Enough Time on the Clock, and Bye, Bye Coercion, Hello Mr. Dao, but since those pieces were also psychotic ramblings through the landscape of my cranium, it doesn’t much matter where you start, except that I refer to my ‘tick tocking’ which will make more sense if you read that first.]


I hate January.

I really shouldn’t, because I’m tryin’ to cut the hating to a minimum these days, but I always have trouble this time of year—being the long dark of January through May as it is up here—concentrating on anything productive.

I manage it sometimes, but it’s a damned struggle. This is especially true if I’ve spent many months working on a huge project that I’ve recently completed, like Be a Hobbit, or my master’s thesis, or whatever. There’s always this massive adrenaline dump and my mind goes kind of limp and flacid—just my mind, mind you—and I find it hard to concentrate or choose the next project to work on.

Many times I try to force that transition, but I’m learning that it’s really not the best thing to do, or I’m supposed to be learning that it’s not the best thing to do. I still try to force it, of course, because I’m by nature it seems, a coercive SOB. That’s also something I’m still workin’ on. Trying to let it be. The Genghis Khan within is always trying to smash his way through every problem and challenge. I have to thrash him back and tell him to shut the hell up, constantly. I’m getting better at it though. I think.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this little ditty, so hang on, I’m just gonna start writing a bunch of shit and see where it leads.

I hear tick tocking again, you know, tick tock, tick tock. But luckily, this time, it’s actual ticking and tocking. I just installed an antique, Dutch clock on the wall in the office, you know, one with the pendulum, the weights, and the little bell that rings the hour and the bottom of. I like it. Photo on 1-22-15 at 4.31 AMPatience’s dad gave it to her years ago, but she left it in her parents house for like two decades. Now it’s on the wall in our home office. Luckily, the Viking Pirate Kitties—Punkin’ n Squish—haven’t figured out how to swing from the chains, yet, but my money has them pulling a Tarzan n Jane by this afternoon.

I was just thinking that maybe now that the tick and the tock is externalized—up on the wall—it will get the fuck out of my head? It’s an idea anyway. I find that to a certain extent, if we can externalize our thoughts, write them down (I have lots of lists all over the place now), then the brain-spin slows down to a manageable level.

Lately I’ve read several books on psychology, positive psychology actually, that have suggested that one of the reasons many of us are so unhappy is that we’re always living in one of two places that we don’t actually exist: the past and/or the future. I say that we don’t exist there, but the there doesn’t actually exist either. It’s impossible to live in either of those places because they have either ceased to exist, i.e., the past, or have not yet happened. We, in fact, can only live in the present, but so many of us rarely do. Basically we’re accomplishing the impossible, or we think we are.

Regrets about what happened in the past keep us locked in some kind of pathetic time capsule of guilt, or anger, or hate, or sorrow, or grief, or some other destructive emotion. We find it difficult to forgive ourselves, or others, and instead blame them or ourselves for our failures, our current situation, and then—here’s the really psycho thing—we project that negativity into the future! We imagine that the negative events from the past will perpetuate themselves in our future, and guess what? They inevitably do! Why? Because we TOLD THEM TO! We constantly create a future, not that we want but that we don’t want, because we can’t let go of the past. What a bunch of hog shit that is!

I do it. You probably do it, unless you’re one of those rare, Yoda-like people walking around telling the rest of us that there “is no try, there is only do or do not” or some such Dao-isty thing like that. We stumble through our crappy present conjuring a crappy future because we can’t let go of the crappy past. We’re dragging it around like some beat-up, 1970s pop-up camper with a flat tire rolling down Interstate 95 in the middle of Georgia in August. Unhitch that bitch. Just let it GO man. Cut that negative crap loose. You don’t need it.

Forgive yourself for screwing things up. Everyone does. Forgive others for doing the same; they’re really no different from you. Carrying around hate and blame isn’t hurting that other person, not much anyway. Most of the time, the people we hate don’t even know it, or at least they don’t experience it very much. Why? Because if we hate them, we rarely ever talk to them! So who is all that hate really damaging? Answer: YOU! US! Just stop it.

I’m not saying you have to love everybody. That would be nice, but I’m not that naive. It’s really hard to do that. It’s a great goal to have, but don’t kid yourself that you’ll ever quite achieve it. Maybe you will, I don’t know. If you can’t bring yourself to love’em, at least forgive’em. You don’t even have to tell them that you’ve forgiven them. That would be optimum, but in some situations, unrealistic. Just forgive them in your own mind, first. Because the forgiveness isn’t usually for their benefit anyway; it’s for ours. By letting go of that negative emotion, hate, we can stop living so much in the past, and stop projecting it into the future.

I sometimes construct counter arguments for statements that no one’s yet made.

Yeah, I know that’s fucked up. I really wonder about myself sometimes. Am I fuckin’ nuts? or what? Seriously, I do this. Do you? I hope so, then at least I won’t be alone in the lobotomy room. This can happen to me in any situation, but if I’m being honest, it mostly happens on Facebook. We really need that genital shocker device app for social media. Read my post, “Don’t Despair Denethor” if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

Anyway, many times I will read some post—almost always politically motivated—I’ll post something in response (which I should resist more strongly) and then I’ll walk off to do something else, wondering in my head what the other person, or other people, are going to say to my post. So I’ll start constructing their theoretical statements, and then, here’s the kicker, I’ll construct my counter-argument to their fictional, theoretical statement! And then their counter to mine, and on and on and on.

It’s insane, I know. I can feel the lobotomy knife slicing off sections of my frontal cortex already, or the electro-shock therapy chair warming up in the corner. What was the name of that insane asylum in Dracula? Maybe I should be in with ole Renfield hunting roaches, bats, and rats for dinner, waiting for the Master to come and deliver me.

So I started off talking about being stuck on what to write next, and I end up writing about eating bugs and rodents. Where do I get this stuff? Why are you reading it? You know, this probably means you’re fuckin’ nuts, too, right? Don’t tell anyone you read this, or they might have you committed. Or maybe everyone should read it! Maybe my incoherent ramblings can help us to stop this crazy train that we’re all on. And it seems that most of society is on a crazy train. We’re running around trying to make, or buy, or steal happiness and tranquility, as if that could actually happen. You can’t buy those things. Why? Because we all think they’re in the future or that we lost them in some golden-age past. Bullshit. Peace, happiness, contentment, tranquility either exist now, or they never have, or never will.

Listening to the tick, tock on the wall actually helps me to stay in the present, because the external ticking is happening now, not tomorrow. It’s not a projection; it’s real. It’s now. So put up a clock in your house and listen to the ticking and tocking on the wall, not in your head. Forgive yourself and others for the past, and stop projecting and constructing negative events in the future. It’s stupid, and a waste of time. “Smile and grin at the change all around you,” as Roger Daltrey once sang, and embrace it. Happiness is now, or it is never. And while you’re at it, pass me those roaches, and some eye of rat.
I think I have a recipe for that.

Now, read Part IV, Slow Down Dog Sh*t n Crackers

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE


  1. Your ramblings are not insane, in fact, change the context to say, sitting with a group of friends around a roaring fire with a tankard of frothing ale in your hand, in an old pub with low beamed ceilings and wooden floors… Sigh… And it’s all very coherent! Dare I say it, sane.

    I completely empathize with the brain going ‘limp and flaccid’ experience. I call it brain mush. I am still there over two years after finishing my thesis… It’s annoying and frustrating as Hell! Especially when you have ideas buzzing around your hive mind. I’ve tried pushing through it. That’s like wading backwards through treacle with flippers on. I’ve tried doing nothing and letting me and my poor brain rest. That’s like sinking in treacle with flippers on. What’s the answer? No idea. But wading is better than sinking in my opinion.

    As for the clock. I lived in an old and quite magical house in Edinburgh while doing my PhD. Downstairs stood an elderly grandfather clock. It’s painted face towered over me. At night, while laying in bed, I could hear it tick tock as the pendulum swung like a heart beat. I found it very comforting. Like an anchor to the present.

  2. Yes, I much prefer wading to sinking, myself.

    I love Edinburgh, by the way. Visited there once back in ’03. Wonderful place! Scotland in general was awesome. You’re from Wales, right?

    My family/ancestors were from Wales, somewhere. Not sure where. They left for America before the Revolution, lol.

    Sitting around the fire with ale and ceiling beams is definitely my kind of night.

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