Learning to Love the Ticking

Advice from a cosmonaut

COVID-19, social distancing, safety, Peter Shankman, depression

I've been silent these past few weeks, and full disclosure, it's because it's been a tough few weeks for me. NYC keeps going to hell, the virus shows no signs of slowing down, I miss being on a plane more than I can explain... Put it all together, and I've been skating around the edges of depression just a little bit closer than I'd like.

Over the weekend, my trainer noticed. I was doing the bare minimum on each workout, and it was pretty obvious. So after I finished a set, he stopped me and told me a story about a Russian cosmonaut.

Seems that in the early years of space exploration, there was a cosmonaut orbiting the earth. He was witnessing the curvature of the earth out of the porthole window, and he was amazed. But as he was taking it all in, he heard a faint ticking sound coming from somewhere inside the capsule. He searched and searched for the source, but to no avail. He tried ignoring it, but every time he'd look out the window, his view was marred by that annoying "tick, tick, tick."

The story goes that the cosmonaut realized he had two choices: He'd be in space for 96 hours, and the ticking wasn't going to stop. He explained that he learned to love the sound. After a few hours, he realized that he could learn to love the sound, or he could let it drive him mad. 

So he learned to love it. The sound became beautiful music, a symphony in his head that accompanied the beautiful scene he was seeing below him. It proved he was still alive, and able to appreciate the amazing things he was currently doing, hundreds of miles above the earth.

My trainer said maybe that was how I had to look at what was going on in the world. 

We can't control the virus right now. We can't control the stupidity of other people. But we can learn to love what we have right now. I have more time with my daughter. I have more time to improve myself. I have more time to slow down and take it all in. At some point soon, I won't have that time again. So for now, perhaps I can learn to love my current environment. I'm able to work out. I'm able to come up with new ideas. I'm able to help others. Perhaps, for now, that's enough.

It changed how I see things just a little bit, and this morning, I had one of the best workouts of my life. I hope it changes the way you see things, as well.

Peter Shankman is an entrepreneur, an author and a trainer living in New York City. He is a stay at home dad as well.

If you're looking for that special gift this holiday season for someone in your life who has ADD, ADHD, or any kind of neurodiverse brain, how about a conversation with me? I've finally been convinced to join Cameo, where you can request videos, shout-outs, birthday greetings, even a one-on-one talk about how ADHD is a superpower! You can find me on Cameo here!

Other articles by Peter Shankman

  • The value of your time = The value of your mental health

    What is your time worth to you?

    Your mental health and your time are closely related. If you're constantly running around complaining that you don't have enough time, that has a negative effect on every aspect of your life. If there's an easy way to fix that, I can't imagine anything in the world more worth the spending of a few extra dollars. read more »
  • I turn 50 tomorrow

    Here's my birthday wish for you

    (If we've been communicating for longer than a year, you've received this before. But that said, it's good to reread. It's good for all of us to reread every once in a while. (And I added a new one at #10.)) read more »
  • What to do When You're Having "One of those Weeks"...

    Just breathe and realize you can't control everything

    Ever have a truly horrible week, where within the first 12 hours, you know it's not going to get any better? Yeah. That's me this week. read more »
  • Lessons from the African Plains

    You don't know your own power until you use it

    We don't know how strong we are until we're called on to be that strong. We don't know our power until we stand up to a bully, until we stop caring what others think of us, until we demand better service, until we raise our prices, until we stop allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. read more »
  • Embrace your fear

    Use it to your advantage

    The key is to embrace your fear. To let it wash over you, and to channel the energy, the excitement, and the chemicals it produces, and use them to your advantage. read more »
  • Resolutions Fail. Rituals Succeed.

    Peter talks about succeeding in the new year

    Best selling author, Peter Shankman, thinks resolutions are the stupidest things in the world. They rarely succeed, because we're a society that values "instant wins," and you just don't get them from resolutions. read more »
  • What's your Decision Altitude?

    Don't miss out by being indecisive

    Skydivers have a bunch of interesting traditions. Specific fist-bumps before exiting the plane to keep us safe. Being hit by a pie after your 100th jump. But one of them is deadly serious. It's called "decision altitude." What is yours? read more »
  • Stop being so damn hard on yourself

    Advice from motivational speaker Peter Shankman

    You deserve to be treated kindly by you. That's it. That's the sentence. read more »
  • Turn your weakness into a badge of honor

    Start thinking of them as gifts

    Stop thinking of your weaknesses as weaknesses. Start thinking of them as gifts. Because if you allow them to be, that's exactly what they are. read more »
  • Never Change to Match Your Surroundings

    Just be you

    Peter Shankman talks about driving home a lesson in being yourself with his daughter. read more »