The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. ~Henry David Thoreau
The funny and beautiful thing about any adventure is that it opens your eyes to more adventures and possibilities. Stepping into the unknown is briefly terrifying, but once you make the move through Fear, you can find yourself in the land of Come-What-May (sometimes this territory masquerades briefly as the realm of Don’t Give a Flying F*ck), and there’s a whole world waiting that you suddenly want to absorb and be consumed by in every possible way.
So instead of wondering how I’m going to find meaning or purpose enough to fill the next years of my life, I instead find myself wondering if I have enough years left for the purpose and things I want to do.
Since coming back from Finland, I find myself more selfish with my finite energy and time and more careful with how I chose to spend them.
Yesterday was a grey, cold, rainy old day and this always messes with my head, especially in what is supposed to be summer. And yesterday a deluge of wrinkles were heaped on to of me along with a revisitation by the cumulative stresses of weeks of change. Unexpected texts for events to be attended, spontaneous meetings, friends having rough days, things that were supposed to have happened and got rescheduled to time perfectly with two other simultaneous events, things that others were to have done that they didn’t, my lunch forgotten, hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, mistakes by other people that needed fixing, piles of junk that needed sorting, dealing with people who should have paid their bills months ago and who chose not to…. the list goes on.
I started slipping into the funk that I felt before leaving for Finland and at about mid-day, I found my mood swinging dramatically downward. At that point I remember a small voice in my mind saying, “Whoa. No. No. NO. I don’t *WANT* to feel this way. This is not happening. Fuck this. This is MY goddamned life.”
And this time I decided to listen to that voice and stop. I stopped my descent into wallowing by refocussing on my purpose and plans, things that I have gradually come to realize shape who I want to be.
I stopped it by deciding where my priorities were (which were not necessarily the ones others thought I should have), determining what I needed to let go of, and acting upon what mattered most to me.
And that was a turning point in yesterday. I looked at all the reasons for which I was feeling bad and decided that most of them simply didn’t matter and I was wearing ill-fitting clothes needlessly. While I was telling myself that they were chores that mattered and had to be finished, what I really was doing was paralyzing myself with a boatload of anchors from the past.
The things that were legitimately causing me stress I would work on without emotion. The things that didn’t matter I would simply let go of and not worry about; I would deal with the necessary shit dispassionately and save true passion for that which deserves it.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain. -Maya Angelou
I decided that for yesterday, the people came first, along with my own goals. A niece’s graduation and a friend having a rough day mattered far more than whether desk drawers got emptied and sorted of stuff that likely would go straight into the shredder or garbage anyway.
I spent time setting into motion some of my own personal plans, which matter far more than spending time sorting through what effectively amounts to a heap of useless crap. I decided that my time directed towards my future was worth more than a few dollars saved for someone else’s business by sorting through used stationary supplies.
The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. -Randy Pausch
I decided that pouring whatever happiness and energy that I had left into a decent and positive training session was a far more productive and satisfying investment than any amount of time spent alone in a cold, dark, office that no one needs any more.
Prioritizing this gave shape to the rest of my day, made me a more pleasant person to be around, and gave me the fortitude to tackle other parts of life that really and truly mattered. In short, I determined that looking forward was a more worthy use of my energy than looking back and that taking care of myself was the most important thing I could do to take care of the others who rely on me.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”