I often get to the end of the day thinking of all the things I did not get to do rather than the ones I did. Somehow, come 10pm or so, no matter how much I get done during the day, the dark cloud of ‘not enough’ looms over my head.
Not enough is the leitmotif of today’s life. Not enough is enough to drive one rather anxious.
It took a morning drive through thick rain a couple of weeks ago to be startled enough to see it.
Rain that morning was a big creature with a watery tongue that licked the windshield incessantly, giving the wipers more trouble than ever. The radio churned news in the background and thoughts abounded. It had been a rushed morning with barely any conversations with the boys. Utilitarian mornings like that point to the reality of today’s pace of life. Rushed.
Hard to escape the feeling of, again, not enough. Time, words, mornings, smiles, hugs, peace of mind… not enough of any.
The words on the radio caught me off-guard.
There will be a new test able to reveal whether or not someone’s at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. ‘Would you do it?’ the show host asked. The guest said yes without hesitation.
Both her parents had Alzheimer’s and both slipped into it without being aware of leaving their world as they knew it. Save for the occasional episodes of being in the moment and owning their present, as well as their memories, those two people and so many others like them, had no more chances of understanding life as it was. She said that her parents did not get to do enough to feel fulfilled, and her regret was that she did not have more time with them before they got lost in that illness.
Does it make sense to know what’s ahead? Yes and no. I don’t want to know the future, but I want the awareness of tomorrow’s possible slipperiness to make the best of today.
In a world where we forget half the things we did yesterday because today piles too much on an already full plate, what’s worth spending time on anyway? What are the things worth doing that might save us from forgetting the days we leave behind? Is it maybe about ‘planting’ something that extends beyond the boundaries of self?
The dialogue on the radio was still going on when I turned off the car; outside voices quiet, my thoughts were the only ones left on the scene. We are on borrowed time and often investing it all in castles built on sand, are we not?
What’s worth spending time then? Joy? I’d say. And the feeling of ‘I don’t want to miss out on this.’
What is it that you do not want to miss out on?
The mystery of life, the big purpose of why we’re here, one could build a long glittery succession of big words and lofty dreams. But is that it?
Ultimately, defining what’s worth spending time on goes hand in hand with defining ourselves, while noting that life slips away regardless, and spreading ourselves too far from who we truly are, from what we are, dilutes the very experience of life.
The fragment of that conversation a few mornings ago made me look carefully at how I define myself.
Time spent right takes us, surely and diligently, towards the answer to the old, mystery-shrouded question about why we are here in the first place.
It’s time spent right that will save us from heartbreaking regret and allow us to say that in how we spent our time we found our purpose.
Mine is spent on musing and writing, on seeing things as I walk through life, literally and otherwise, with my sons and the man with whom I share life. We happen upon stories of ourselves, stories of life as it happens, stories bigger than ourselves.
It’s humbling to realize that time spent on listening to boys’ grumbles, their struggles with figuring out life and people, their incessant belly laughs when a silly toilet-related joke drops in the middle of yet another dinner table, their spying on cats and crumpled leafs and all that dawdling that makes us all so late so often and me so aware of all of that being more real than anything else… It’s all worth it.
The hum of rushed life is growing every day till it becomes deafening. At least at times it does, taking us father from ourselves. Society expectations, pressure of this kind or another, they tend to blow unwanted winds into our sails, pushing us into shores we’ve never meant to get close to, and that much further from where we should be.
Time spent right, if we have the courage to do so, I believe it can unfog the lenses through which we see ourselves and our lives. True or not, it’s worth trying… So we won’t have to face the regret that we haven’t, or leave someone behind with the painful legacy of ‘not enough’…
Awareness, as always, can be both a blessing and a curse. And, as always, it is our choice to make it one or the other…