When things calm down I’ll…
Organize all my closets.
Update my resume.
Learn to play “Peaceful Easy Feeling” on the guitar, and then make people listen to me play it all.. the… time…
Lose the weight.
Figure out how to achieve crow pose in yoga without panicking and falling on my tuckus.
Write my blog.
Take a walk.
When things calm down, I’ll find time to do all the things that have been nagging at me.
When things calm down.
For years, this is what I’ve told myself. Things will ease up. Life has its hills and valleys, but there are also those lovely in-between places. Remember those? Maybe you had a lot of them in your 20s, when your biggest conundrum was which bar you would blow your paycheck on Friday (guilty). Or maybe in your 30s, there was that stretch of time when both kids were finally sleeping through the night and you were less irritable and you started to carve out the smallest amount of time for yourself (hello, 5 a.m. runs along the boardwalk).
But the in-betweens are dwarfed by the hills and valleys. The hills are the highs, when everything seems crazy but in a good way—the weekends are crammed with dance lessons and t-ball games and birthday parties; the weekdays are filled with juggling work and kids and fitting in the occasional date night. It’s a lot going on, but it’s all good.
Then there are the valleys, the times when it feels as if you barely recovered from the first punch when another comes careening towards you. Despair needs company, and seems to keep pulling more drama to itself. The death of a loved one, an illness, financial disaster, a troubled child, a troubled parent. These events tumble like weeds and leave you gasping for air even when you’re standing still.
Then one day you realize—things are good. This is the place where I can exhale. Problem is, by now I am exhausted. Things have calmed down, but the hills and valleys sapped all my drive to accomplish the things I keep saying I’ll do—once things calm down. I find myself longing to just sit in the quiet, read a book, accomplish nothing. Nothing. Be gloriously fulfilled by the in-between where nothing, repeat nothing, is happening.
But then, what happens to my, “When things calm down…” list? They turn into piles and boxes, like the box of kids’ artwork and photographs that I keep telling myself I’ll organize into a beautiful scrapbook (even though this is not my skillset and it feels like work). Oh, and look over here, it’s that pile of clothes that I say I *will fit in again, but until I do let’s just keep them sitting in my closet as a daily reminder of my failure.
I realize that the end of, “When things calm down,” is actually, “I’ll have my perfect life.”
But you know what? Perfect is a lie. It is a fantasy sold to us on Instagram; a guilt trip force-fed to us by a passive-aggressively boastful Facebook post from your super-success college roommate. (But we all know she’s either popping Xanax or crying in her wine each night? Right? High five.)
So I’m rethinking my “When things calm down” mantra. Instead of imagining all the things that will make my life “perfect,” I’m going to come up with a list of things that will make me… get ready… happy! And, I’m going to get rid of the “When things calm down” part and replace it with, “I’ll make time to…”
I’ll make time to…
Write my blog. (Done!)
Do bad yoga where I fall out of most poses. (Did that this morning!)
Enjoy this beautiful weather. (Later, after work!)
And I think that’s enough for one day. I guess I should add bigger, longer-term goals but I’m not feeling it today so I won’t. But I’ll think about them, and consider whether the things I want are truly joyful, or just to check off a box. If it’s the latter, well, who needs boxes? Or piles. Let’s push them all aside and focus on the now. And now, I just wrote a blog post and am feeling quite dandy about that. It's a win, and in this life, take them where you can get them.