Years ago I read an interview about James Franco’s childhood. When he found out he would die one day, he cried because there were so many things he wanted to do and he didn’t think he’d be able to accomplish them all in his lifetime. I relate, but not exactly in the same way. Yes, there is a lot I want to see and do, but my predominant feeling is that I’m behind. If life were a race, my perception is I’d be losing.
In 12-step communities, we’d say I’m engaging in “compare and despair.” That is, I’m comparing my life to someone else’s and coming up short. It’s true, I am engaging in that sort of behavior, but it’s more than that. I feel pressured. I feel pressured to go out there and get what I want. To seize the day, to grab the bull by the horns, to not waste a moment of my life. Pick an aspirational cliché: It applies. And if I haven’t, if I’m not growing, progressing, or achieving, then I perceive myself as wasting my day, and in turn, my life.
Friends, I’m exhausted. It’s exhausting having this kind of attitude, to try and beat the clock. How many times have we all heard, “Do it now because you never know how much time you have left”? I need to start operating my life as if I have all the time in the world. As if I were eternal. The alternative is what I’m currently experiencing: feeling rushed, anxious, and frustrated. I can’t go on like this. Instead of living like I could die tomorrow, I need to live like I’ll die when I’m 120. I say this because I’m the type who would be hospitalized for exhaustion, not the type who constantly says, “Some day…” and “some day” never comes.
My body is screaming for rest right now and I don’t get any rest if I’m constantly putting pressure on myself to live as if I’ll die tomorrow. I don’t get any rest if I feel like everything needs to be accomplished NOW. I need to start believing all the dreams in my heart will come true, but not tomorrow, and that’s OK because I have time. I also think it’s a part of spiritual practice to contemplate the qualities I associate with the divine, which my spiritual teacher corroborates. He says:
“The wise do not absorb themselves in the glitter and glamour of the fleeting entities of this transitory world. They focus all the zeal of their hearts upon the Eternal Principle that is the original cause behind these moving entities. Ensconced behind every change is the One Who Witnesses every transitory entity deep within that Supreme Entity, who is the only entity. The truly wise should contemplate and worship [that entity].”
It may not work for everyone, but for me, right now I need to contemplate the One Who Witnesses every change. I need to contemplate my eternal nature, the one who views time as merely a marker, rather than a race. I need to believe there is time enough for everything.
I dream of a world where we strike a balance between activity and inactivity. A world where we slow down. A world where we get in touch with the eternal part of ourselves. A world where we believe we will accomplish all the things we wish to accomplish, but maybe not in the time frame we’d like. A world where we realize there is time enough.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
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