Here’s my most recent column, now up at at Project Simplify:
The Not-So-Simple Life: Are You Done Yet?
by Lance Brown
She said, “It’s all about the moment,”
But I got one eye on the clock
It’s all about the moment
I got one eye on the clock
She said, “Open up a little,
You might see what you have got.”
-Doug Hoekstra, “Everywhere is Somewhere”
It is a fact of existence: most of our time is not spent achieving our goals.
It sounds sad when stated like that, but really, there are plenty of activities that we engage in with no hope of completion at all, and we don’t get sad about those.
Take breathing, for example. Have you finished oxygenating your body yet? You haven’t? What’s wrong with you? Get to work! Hurry up—breathe in! Now do it again! And again! Faster! You have important things to do, and you can’t spend all your time hung up trying to get this breathing thing done.
After all, you still have to finish washing your dishes once and for all. And raising your children. And learning. You’ve got to get those things done so that you can get to all that important stuff on your to-do list!
Hmmm…so maybe the “completion” model doesn’t always work. Some things just don’t get “done”. Some things do, of course—you can actually finish washing a dish…but, like breathing, the only time you’ll truly be finished washing your dishes is when you’re dead. (On the bright side, your to-do list will shrink radically at that time too!)
So, whether we realize it or not, we’re all accustomed to engaging in efforts that will never quite bring a final sense of accomplishment. They’ll have mini-victories along the way—an empty sink, a high school graduation, another successful round of in-breath/out-breath—but then the task will immediately present itself again. You can try all you want, but you won’t ever truly get to cross it off your list.
Discouraged yet? Don’t be. Just take a moment to breathe. Ready?
Breathe in, and then out.
You did it! Good job! Another successful breath. Have you been practicing? Because you really are excellent at that.
See how that works? No, I don’t mean breathing—I mean accomplishing things. There are two ways to look at it. On the one hand, depending on your age, you have somewhere between 400 and 600 million more breaths to get through in your lifetime. Ugh, right? What a pain in the butt!