Today’s prompt: Come Alive by Jonathan Mead
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If I had one week to live, what would I stop doing? Like many people, of course there are a lot of things I’d stop doing.
I ask myself this question a lot, already. I give myself a lot of credit for the steps I’ve already taken. I often find myself saying, to people who tell me they have no idea how I balance time for music, family, and work, that I remember what it was like before I had music. Instead of spinning myself into yet another giant academic investment, uprooting my family, and taking off for the pursuit of a teaching career, I looked pretty deeply at what I was running from, stayed put for once, and worked with what I had to get to where I am now. Staying put was never a strong suit of mine (I joke about cycling through 6-7 different majors in college). Today, as I sit in my writing spot, looking at blue skies and feeling the chill of the morning breeze through my window, I look at my digital piano, my guitar, my songwriting notebooks, and as my son peeks his head in to see what I’m doing awake at 6:37 am on Sunday morning, I know that I have never been more alive.
I am on a good path now. Sure, if I only had one week left to live, I would not go to work tomorrow, I’d spend every waking moment with people I love, record any unrecorded songs, write what needs to be written, etc. But thankfully that’s not the case. Plus I already wrote a bunch of that in my Day 1 Trust30 blog, “Fifteen Minutes”.
I already live my life with a sense of urgency around what makes my eyes light up. I’m working on it, all the time. And I have to do it in a way that honors my responsibilities – I am still the single income in my family, and any choices I make have to take that into consideration. I can’t just uproot everything because I feel like being a traveling starving artist troubadour this summer. Okay – I take that back – I certainly COULD do that, but I won’t. Providing for my family is also important to me, and whatever choices I make are in careful consideration of that.
All that said, part of this process of coming alive is about living the priorities. And in order to do that, I have to know what those priorities are. Not just go through the motions every day, not just do what I do because I have to – but constantly checking in when there’s discomfort, noticing that, and figuring out if there’s something different that I can do to make it better.
Fear is a big part of that. I am noticing fear more now – when I self-sabotage, and when I get in my own way. It’s funny, because there’s a lot of places where I’m completely unafraid. Public speaking? Performing? No problem. And others where I still am trying to understand it, let alone how to work through it.
One piece of the answer to my post-it note question from Friday (passion – ambition – action – every day) has to include the last bonus bit in the writing prompt: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?
Part of making it “every day,” for me, needs to include a daily practice of being alive in the moment, appreciating the journey, how far I’ve come as well as being inspired (rather than frustrated or discouraged) by how far I have to go. It’s easy to fall into old habits – feeling badly because I haven’t “arrived” yet, or that it’s going more slowly than I had hoped, or annoyed at new obstacles that show up and get in the way. Enough of that already.
The only one in my way, really, is me. Living this is much easier said than done, but hopefully it will be worth the effort.