Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Gold Stars

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We get old. We forget what motivated us as children and might still do. Like gold stars. Laugh if you like. But don’t dismiss the idea as just another dust grain in the Internet sandstorm of irritating tips for living. It works. For me, anyway. And my wife. 

A few months ago, we decided, again, that we were casually consuming too much alcohol. We all know the upsides of beer and wine. We conveniently overlook the downsides. Without going into sanctimonious detail, suffice to say that I consider both those liquids to be solvents. In some measure they have beneficial effects. In greater measure they corrode human beings, slowly but surely. 

I wish to corrode very slowly.

Gold stars on a calendar has become the remarkably effective method we’ve been using for keeping our promise to ourselves about drinking less booze. It was my wife’s idea. As the stars accumulate impressively on the calendar, and as the months accumulate even more impressively, we have come repeatedly to forks in the road when a decision had to be made. Star or drink? Rarely has the drink won out. (When it does, that too is reason to celebrate.)

One final note that's a little embarrassing. The gold stars are actually aspirational at this point. Twice we’ve attempted to order gold stars online. Twice they have not arrived, as if the delivery people also cannot resist gold stars. So, while waiting for the stars, we’ve been using cheap stickers from the dollar store that happen to be Disney stickers. Dwarves. Mice. Pumpkin carriages. 

I’m pleased to report they work just as well.

So, in the privacy of your home, notwithstanding your adulthood and all professional accreditation you might have amassed in your lifetime, or the fact that you might be a tough guy or a woman of great poise and dignity, what habits do you have, or would like not to have, that could be metered in star stickers (or dwarves and mice)?

Go on. Give it a try.


Vocabuteria: liminal

The Compass Needle of Affection