Monday, July 02, 2012
Wanting to Be Where I'm Not
Recently, I mixed a little business with pleasure. To be fair I do that all the time, not only because I’m a huge slacker, but because I find pleasure in what I do.
While covering an event in Austin for the newspaper I spent the weekend at some friends’ lake house. We spent one day working and running errands for stuff around their house. We spent the evenings and the rest of the weekend enjoying the lake, each other and a lot of adult beverages — it was Cinco de Mayo for goodness sake.
We had a blast. On the way home someone commented that the weekend seemed to “fly by” because so much fun was had by all. I agreed that it probably went by a little too fast but for me it seemed to last because every day is a weekend for me. It hasn’t always been that way. There was a time not too long ago when I couldn’t truly appreciate time away.
Let me tell you a little story.
My brother has a big black labrador retriever named Molly. Since the day she came home with them she has been crazy as a hatful of rattlesnakes. She was always on the move, always chewing on something and wanting to be where she wasn’t. If she was inside, she barked until someone let her outside. When she got outside, she immediately turned around and barked again, waiting on someone to let her back inside. She wanted to be where she wasn’t.
The years have added some gray to her snout and some girth to her belly but she sometimes still displays that spirit of discontent.
I was the same way. For years, when I was at work, I hated my life and would have given my left pinky toe to be somewhere else, anywhere else. The problem was when I was off, all I could think about was “I’m going to have to go back to that place soon.” I couldn’t enjoy either place.
Calgon, take me away. But it never did. Time was never on my side.
Someone once said we each make our own time. When we are enjoying life, time seems to slip by far too quickly. But when we are not enjoying our time — say, strapped to an office chair in a dark cubicle — time slows ... way ... down.
Now every day for me is a joy and a mystery of life, causing me to look forward to each one. Every day is a weekend.
It started when I began enjoying the now. The past is already done. The future hasn’t happened yet — and it may not happen. All we have is right now. So focus on that.
While we were waiting on the shuttle to take us back to our dock, my friend and I started talking about all the boats around us that appeared to never be used, full of dust, spiders and moss.
Some people buy a boat and never really get to enjoy it because they are too busy working to pay for it or something else. They are concentrating on being somewhere or someone else. And never able to enjoy what they have right now.
I don’t have a boat. I do, however, have a lot of great friends with boats, who don’t mind inviting me along at times. I also have something that everyone else has: time. My plan is to enjoy the time I have and enjoy it now.
In the 1980s Boston was one of my favorite rock bands. They had a song called “Peace of Mind,” which I enjoyed all the time but never really listened to the words, until now.
The chorus goes like this:
“I understand about indecision / I don’t care if I get behind / People living in competition / all I want is to have my peace of mind.”
Peace of mind is important stuff. It’s the most important thing in the recipe to success.
Running and competing and climbing is exhausting. Sometimes all we want is just to live and enjoy some peace of mind.
One of the verses says, “Now everybody’s got advice they just keep on giving / Doesn’t mean that much to me / Lots of people out to make-believe they’re living / can’t decided who they should be.”
Yep. That about sums it up.
Buddhists call it “mindfulness,” becoming aware of something even as simple as a breath. Jesus said “don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
So my advice is to make time slow down and work in your favor. Be mindful of right now. Enjoy the ride. Be content with where you are and things will start to turn your way.
Stop wanting to be where you’re not.
Word hard. Dream big. Suck the marrow of life each and every day and you just might find some peace of mind.
I can explain all of this in more detail if anyone would like to invite me out for an afternoon of fun and sun on their boat.