Take the following for what it was and is: a pep-talk I had with myself this morning that I happened to document. If it inspires you, I’m honored. If you think it’s a bunch of B.S., that’s cool too.
Life gets in the way.
It’s a common theme, one we use in one form or another – aloud to others, under our breath to ourselves or maybe subconsciously without even knowing it – as a reason, excuse or justification for not getting a job done, pursuing a passion, following a dream, or fulfilling a commitment to ourselves or others.
The funny thing is, this reference to life as a nuisance or intrusion into what we really want is ridiculous. Life isn’t a stone in our sandal, a rock we’re pushing up a hill, a bad sunburn, or a jagged tortilla chip that went down the wrong way and is now lodged in our windpipe leaving us to wonder how and when it will painfully make its way to its destination.
It’s … life, and it’s what we live for. It’s the things we want and need, the things we should be doing for ourselves, for others and for the world. And so often, we claim we can’t get, achieve or fulfill those things because life is getting in the way. But isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t these things be getting in the way of life? And by “getting in the way,” I mean it in only the most positive sense.
Your life, my life, or the life of the dude down the street who’s been restoring the same classic car for the past 22 years are all different, but in many ways, they’re similar. Because while we all define our lives differently and pack it with a unique stash of gear and baggage (good and bad), we all go through the same “wake/do/sit/argue/love/think/sleep/repeat” process.
That said, there is no one, single type of life and no inherently correct or perfect way to live it.
Life just “is.” But it also does. What I mean by that is this. Life is here for us as long as we’re drawing breath, waiting for us to direct it. It can’t tell us anything or push us. We need to do that for ourselves. On the other hand, it often puts things in front of us; things we don’t expect, ask for or want: disease, disasters, difficulties; opportunities, chance meetings and sensations.
I can’t speak for you, but often, I create situations (many of them limiting or negative) in my mind, yet so often, the things I worry about never actually happen (at least in my case; maybe you’re a better worrier than I am).
And every moment that I’m worrying or anxiously anticipating a potentially negative outcome, I’m depriving myself the chance to consider and pursue the good stuff: the dreams, the indulgences, the people and the experiences that will make my life better.
There’s room in life for all of what we want and need, we just have to clear space. And, if we keep believing life is “getting in the way” of what we really want or need, maybe those perceived “wants and needs” aren’t so important. Or maybe, just maybe, we need a new mantra.
I’m not preaching, except to myself. Because I’m infinitely guilty of letting life get “in the way.” I make claims (mostly to myself) about all the great and wonderful things I want to do, accomplish and see through to their successful, impressive, philanthropic, athletic, artistic and magnanimous ends. And yet, with each passing year, month, day and moment, I see those same things sitting inert, idling, waiting for someone (me) to take action, to put my money where my mouth is, let the rubber meet the road, or to put it more simply and in words my late father may have used, to simply get off my ass and start – and then finish -- something.
So often in life, we (again, the “we” is really “me,” so don’t think I’m preaching to you) have a built-in excuse for not pursuing what we really want to do, experience and accomplish: “Life gets in the way.”
But why? First of all, why do we say and feel that our life – good or bad – is “getting in the way” of anything? Life IS the way. Second, if we truly believe our life is getting in the way of “bigger, better or happier,” why do we let it? And how can we change that mindset?
For me, it begins with looking at my own life, past, present and future, remembering where I’ve been, how I grew up, and all the things that have shaped me, and that continue to shape me as I move through the world every day.
And I’ve boiled it down to something relatively simple. I want to use my time, talents and energy to do good, to have fun, to love and enjoy my family and friends, and to entertain, inspire, influence and infuse positive change any way I can for myself and those I touch along the path that is my life.
Maybe that goes no further than my family, my neighborhood or my community. That’s fine if that’s what’s meant to be. But maybe there’s more out there. Maybe I can go further with my purpose, extending beyond those I know.
I’d like to think I can expand my life, but I know there’s only one way to find out. And that’s by losing the mantra, “Life gets in the way,” and making those things – my purpose – a critical part of my life; not an add-on, or something I’ll pick up down the road “when I have more time” (I won’t) when the “muse” hits me (it doesn’t) or when inspiration strikes (not gonna happen because I have to decide to be inspired).
One thing I’ve been telling myself lately is this: “It’s never too early or too late.” Maybe that’s been on my mind because I’m not in my 20s, 30s or 40s anymore. I know a lot of water has traveled under my proverbial bridge. Yet, if I sit around commiserating about the time I’ve wasted and using it as an excuse to keep me from pursuing my next act, the next great thing, then why am I here?
It's time … time to shake things up … and time to “get in the way” of my life.
© 2023 David R. Haznaw