We fool ourselves all the time that this situation, this person, or this moment is permanent. We waste time on other things, sometimes literally anything else, no matter how bizarre, rather than focusing on what matters most – whether that’s your kid being cute, or the novel that you need to write, or the table you want to build. It’s like you think you don’t deserve to be happy right here, right now.
I’ve noticed that I have a need to distract myself, to obsfucate, to muddy the waters in case I see too deep. In case I actually, accidentally, focus on something worthwhile. I skim along the surface like a water boatman, distracted by a million flies. I’m annoyed at the car in front of me, the person in front of me, the incident that should be behind me, while the important stuff waits patiently for tomorrow, because I promised it that tomorrow I would get to it, pay attention to it, appreciate it, be there for it, grow it, nurture it. I work too hard, or too long, at the wrong things. I struggle out of each moment, wriggle out of it, so that I can worry about the other shit. I jump out of the river of life and land in the rancid swamp of “what if” and I lay there on my back, wallowing. What if the gutters overflow and the the rainwater makes the foundations unsafe? What if I don’t buy the organic oranges and my child gets cancer?
Sometimes I spend the day worrying. Sometimes I spend the day wandering the house: pacing, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for a time when I can get on with the thing I should be getting on with. Even though nothing is stopping me from getting on with it in that moment, right then and there. I’ll check the football news (soccer to my Canadian friends). I’ll clean the kitchen. I’ll eventually find something to worry about. Or even be angry about. Sometimes I’ll spend the whole day pacing, and wonder why my legs ache in the evening.
Time slips by, and whether you’re an anxious mess full of obsessive thoughts, or down the pub every night drowning out the voices, you’re distracting yourself. Because you don’t think you deserve to do the thing that makes you happy. Truly happy. Joyous. You’re scared to go there, even. Yes, you. I’m talking to you. I don’t want to speak for you, but I know it’s true, and I know you don’t want to admit it. That career you really want, the life decision you can’t take, the things that drain you of all of your creative juices. All of your life-blood. All that wasted time. All those wrong turns, decisions made, energy wasted.
Don’t wait for a wake up call, an epiphany. “I’m not going to lose a moment more,” I say, after a loved one dies or a milestone passes by. That usually lasts about a week, maybe a month, or even a year or so if the shock is big enough. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can be changed in some fundamental way. Woken up. But don’t wait. Make time now. Do it. Right now. If you don’t, your full of shit, and you know it.
Harsh? Maybe. We’re all finding our way. All on a journey. You won’t hear me until you’re ready. Or you’ll listen and nod, and be determined, but then you won’t change anything. I’ve been there. But maybe, just maybe, reading this will trigger something.
Because there’s life, and then you die. And in between you really should consider doing the things that you were meant to be doing all along.