For a moment when work isn’t so demanding. For an hour when the tween stops putting up full resistance to simple requests for help. For a day when negotiating the family schedule doesn’t take high-tech gadgets, extensive three-way discussion, and caving on core values as to what, exactly, constitutes a good meal. For a week when the to do list actually grows shorter.
Then, I think, when one of those miracles happens, I will have time. Time to enjoy my daughter’s fast-dwindling childhood. Time to travel. Time to read. Time to do everything that I’m not doing now because I have to do other things that other people have asked or paid me to do. But most of all, I think that when one of those miracles happens, then I will have time to write.
I’ve been an idiot. Waiting will not bring any of that to pass.
Life is a roller coaster. My life track is being formed in front of me one second before I careen onto it. I am always one track-second away from the final crash. And that, my dear fellow writers, is the only lull that our delicate beings ever encounter with absolute certainty. That lull does not bring us any closer to doing all the things that we are not making time for now.
A close family member recently experienced that final crash. That jarring tragedy proved without a doubt that death does not bring satisfying closure or tidy completion. Just a passing and a painful pileup of life debris left behind for the survivors. Going through that debris brought me face to face with the inevitability of the daily undone–the cumulative consequences of what an individual chooses to do, and not to do, every hour of the day.
In the aftermath, I have been facing down a life-altering truth. My entire existence has been built on rewarding myself with time to do what I love only after all the work is done. And, after having been raised to be responsible and to believe that hard work will lead to a payoff (someday), I have signed on for far more work than I can ever finish. If I keep on this path—waiting until the responsibilities are all met before there is freedom to do what I enjoy—then that huge mess, the weight of the undone, will hold all the fun. All the joy.
That means that the way to live is to make the time, not wait for it.
I am writing this blog as a means of coming clean, and of having others hear my intentions, and to keep me honest. I am about to alter my life. I am going to balance the work and the joy each and every day.
I am about to stop owning other people’s problems, particularly unasked. I am about to try not to rise to the usual arguments. I am about to try to teach my daughter that making dinner is not a chore, it is a creative act. And if that means we have flour on the ceiling after making bread, so be it.
And most of all, I am about to make the time to write even on the crazy days when the rollercoaster is rolling at full speed over the apex of a dropoff. That means writing when there are wolves howling in the office and children complaining that spending ten minutes not focused on their needs and wants constitutes neglect. I will write my characters’ life stories in my heart while I fend off the wolves. I will challenge my tween to a creative writing contest and teach her how to lighten her own growing load of undone joys.
I know, I know. There are those of you that think it is impossible to write without just the right conditions. A quiet room. A comfortable chair. A stretch of unscheduled time. A getaway from all the mundane tasks that scream for daily attention. A lack of interruption or distraction.
I was among you. I walked your path. And in a few months’ time, when the desperation born of mourning and facing down the grim reaper has faded and I am again longingly waiting for a quiet moment, I want this article to remind me of one thing:
The work that I have done while on the rollercoaster is messy, but far better than the work that I never did finish while waiting for the ride to be over.
Will you join me in this? Will you live the joy, at least a little bit every day, not delay it? Will you write like your life depended on it? Because it does.
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