Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?
(Author: Jonathan Mead)
Would I be doing what I’m doing now? I nearly fell off my chair laughing, or I would have, had this not made me want to cry. If I had one week, I would max out my credit cards and get on the next airplane going somewhere, anywhere, warm, and sunny and different. I would go to the Great Adventure People website and hit the Random button and get on the first trip that was short enough to get me back home in time. It’s not that I want away from the people I love; it’s that I’ve been waiting my entire adult life for my finances to get good enough to justify spending the money on the trip. That’s 22 years now, and it still hasn’t happened.
There’s this one big thing, for which I have a deep yearning, and it feels like I’ve deferred that part of my life so long that I now fear it will never get to be the priority. I’ve spent that money on other things, on cars, on courses, on entire university degrees, on small business ventures, always hoping that this thing here will be the one that will eventually pay off enough to fund the trip. So here is what I’ve learned: take the trip. Stop reserving that part of your future for some time that can endlessly recede.
This summer I’m going. We’re driving to B.C., me and the two older kids. Goin’ a wandering… and it is a practice trip. This is the one where I speak the language and hold the currency, know what everything should cost, and don’t have to make any conversions. I know my bank card will work, and what the food will look like.
Even with all that, I’m scared. I’ll admit it. I don’t know what I’m scared of, but I’m having a hard time making the reservations, scheduling the 8 hour drive days (what if I’m too tired to make the drive that day?), picking the long-distance plan and the cell phone so that I can keep up with the online course I’m taking, (and call home once in a while), deciding what to do about transportation once we get there and hand the trailer and truck over to their owners (bikes? rent a car? rent a house and take the bus?)
I like to say that I haven’t travelled because of the cost, but I think that’s been a convenient excuse. I’ve kept the cars on the road all these years, kept making the payments on all the trappings, and even assembled a reasonable set of furniture (as long as Early North American Student is acceptable for adults these days). But it took me 21 years to get a passport, and even then it was just because I suddenly needed one to cross the border to the U.S.
“In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list.” I’m not sure how confident I feel about this. It really requires me to stop being the ant (of the ant and the grasshopper), and as we know, the ant turned out to have some important wisdom in that story. I am willing to admit that there may have been too much of my life devoted to sometime in the future. I’m starting to fear, though, that I could live indefinitely into sometime in the future, and eventually discover that the part of my life in which it was possible (to climb rocks, hike long distances, learn to ride a bike with panniers, eat strange foods with only my fingers) was behind me and I’d never done it. THAT I would regret.
(I’m still stubbornly putting those postaday tags on, even though as soon as I got back on that horse, the internet went down for three days in my house.)