Wasting Life

And there it was: the post that shouted!

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7 thoughts on “Wasting Life

  1. Someone I respect asked me recently what my weaknesses are. Who likes to talk about their weaknesses, I thought? Especially when we all have so many of them. Then I read this and realized one of them is the fear of failure, the caution that creeps in over time for what seem like good reasons at the time. Some of it comes from having kids. When they’re little you get into a mindset of worrying about all the things that could harm them. You get used to being on alert all the time for household poisons, and bullies who pick on them, and dipshit moron teachers (still a sore point, obviously) who don’t recognize your child’s brilliance. There’s fear and drama mixed in with the joy. It’s just part of the job description.

    But before you know it, it has become a habit, even when it’s not as necessary any more. You identify as a parent, and it’s hard to let that go.

    Then there are the career factors, the office politics, the challenges of marriage and family, illness, and on and on. My boys/men are in their 30s now, and I still worry about them. But there comes a point where you just have to give up the primary protector role and start taking more interest in your own quality of life, to resolve to smell the roses more and open yourself up to new experiences, to heartbreak and lust and love, to different ways of approaching life, and to take on new challenges and face those fears and stare them down. None of us gets out of this life alive, after all. Anything can happen at any time. What am I waiting for? Failing well isn’t all that bad, actually.

    I like to think of myself as someone who’s ‘grabbed life by the balls,’ but if I’m honest, I’ve been more cautious than courageous. That’s both a strength and a weakness. Sometimes it’s just smart to assess risks and avoid taking stupid ones. I’m ok with that. But as I’ve gotten older and started assessing my life, I have some regrets. No big deal there; everyone does. But I don’t want to add to the pile. Everything in my life has brought me to this point, was perfectly designed to have things turn out as they did. I only have what I am now to move forward, and that’s not too bad a place to be in.

    So this year is a year of looking at my weaknesses and having a serious come to Jesus talk with as many of them as I can. I used to think I was going to change the world, be rich and famous, date starlets and get invited to the White House. That’s not going to happen (although I have a hard time letting go of the starlet fantasy), but there are new people to meet, old promises to finally keep, and the air of alien places to sniff at dawn. My identity has always been, at the very root, of that of a writer. I’ve failed to honor that enough, but if I stop beating myself up over that failure, I am still that at my core. And life itself is raw material, an inexhaustible supply. I just have to pay attention, and use what I see and hear and experience in a certain way.

    And maybe, if I’m not too protective of my weaknesses, I might find I didn’t really leave it until too late.

    By the way, I’ve recently discovered that I have a weakness for Tequilla Sunrises. That’s something I think I can build on. 🙂

    • “dipshit moron teachers ” – this made me laugh!

      I enjoyed reading your perspective and it sounds reminiscent of my H’s comments over the past few years about his life, legacy, dreams, realities, etc. I can honestly say that I have never had much structure to my dreams beyond milestones and specific academic achievements. That was all incidental to taking care of everyone else – especially my children. I guess growing up the way I did, my weaknesses were *always* front and center, but my brilliance was quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) there. I wasn’t sure what my “brand” was going to offer the world, but I never stopped to think about it much. I just *did*. I never worried about the plan because I just trusted that I’d be where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there.

      Sure that’s caused me a bit of heartburn now and then but overall, taking things as they come has been an asset. Only recently have I had to think more along the lines of my weaknesses and how they affect my future.

      Tequila Sunrises sound damn good to me! Just one.

  2. It was 3 years ago that the unexpected death of my dear friend changed my priorities. I used to need things for happiness(which of course didn’t work) and then I agonized over the cost of travel to see people and wondered why I was so depressed!
    Focusing on material rewards didn’t get me anywhere and if anything compounded my depression. Now my focus is on enjoying life and squashing my inner doubts so I can be happy whether I suceed or fail. While I would have preferred learning this before she died, I am grateful for this wisdom. I just lost my mom last month to cancer. If I was still in that depressed state than this round of grief would be much worse.

    • Oh wow. I am really sorry you experienced such a difficult loss. I admire you for drawing the amazing lessons and being able to pass along your wisdom to others. Thank you for sharing this as I am thinking about how losses can compound. Resiliency matters greatly.

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