The other night my wife and I were at a friend’s house. We were having one of those conversations that lacks a clear beginning and you dread the moment someone looks at their watch and realizes how hysterically late it has become. During the course of our talk, the conversation turned towards something my wife posted on facebook; a five year plan for she had written as a reminder for where she and I are heading. The question was asked what made her think to write it down. Her answer has stuck with me.
She said that her entire life, she’s always tried to live intentionally. I can vouch for the fact that she’s never been one to let life boss her around…She’s much more comfortable riding atop it with a lasso at her belt and a cowboy hat in her hand than she is being trampled beneath it… And that seems like common sense… And yet, every day I talk to people who seem to believe that their lot in life is to be trampled and that there’s nothing to be done about it.
When Leah and I started dating, I think I was the same way… My only saving grace is that I was so laid back that when I was being trampled, it just didn’t bother me that much. I remember one time she and I were talking and I told her about being a stressed out because I had so much to do. She asked me what had to be done, and I told her. As I spoke, she wrote everything down onto a list. When all was said and done, I was amazed because this impending sense of doom consisted of like, four easy errands. What really surprised me was how much mental real estate these little buzzing thoughts were taking up. Once I realized they could all fit onto a single sticky note, I knew that I could handle it easily.
From that moment on, I was sold on the power of list making. I think five years of witnessing her productivity voodoo first hand has finally begun to rub off on me. Not just in the form of making WAY more lists than I used to, but in terms of living life on my own terms… If something in my life starts to bother me, I start figuring out how I change it. Again, this seems obvious, but I see a lot of people who live their day to day life being utterly victimized by the cards they’ve been dealt. Admittedly, some people do truly have it rough, and help may not be able to come from their own hands… But I dare say the majority of people I speak to on a daily basis continue to hate the lives they’re living because they refuse to change how they’re living.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Despite that, I think we grow comfortable in our misery. Yes, we hate it and it hurts and we want it to change… But it’s so familiar. We know what to expect. We know not to get our hopes up. People act like their life is out of their hands, but I really don’t believe that’s the case. All it takes to break free is one leap of faith. Start looking for a new job. Start focusing on something you used to love doing. Spend some time trying to improve yourself, your surroundings, whatever you can. Look at the circles your life is going in, and start doing something different.
I’ve mentioned on here that I’m trying to push myself to become a more consistent writer and to make time for the arts in my life again. I’m going to do my best to stop talking about what I plan to be doing and just start doing it… But I challenge any of you who are out there thinking that something needs to change… To take a leap and see what happens.