This past week, I read the following quote:
“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” … Seneca
This quote really resonated with me and fits well, I think, with the idea of writing and living a better story which I discussed a couple of weeks ago in the post, “How to Tell Your Story Tina Fey Style”.
It is much less overwhelming to try and live a better story one day at a time than trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Which can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis.
When you consider how you want to live your life, it’s so easy to talk about the things you’re going to do when you have the time, when your children are older, when you have the money, when you lose weight, when you quit your job, when you start your own business when, when, when. It seems that, far too often, the “when” never arrives or, if it does, your fear or uncertainty about what you want to do with your life makes you pick another arbitrary “when” in the future. You talk about becoming a writer, an artist, a photographer, a business owner – whatever YOUR dream is – and yet you get lost in the minutae of chores/shoulds/to-dos that become your days. Those days in turn become weeks, months, years and lives. Those days are the content of your life.
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” … Alfred D’Souza
If you want to be a writer in this life, then you need to write daily. It would be miraculous if – after a lifetime of non-writing days – you suddenly became a writer. Whatever you yearn to be, do the thing that would make you be that daily. Those days of doing the things you love to do, the things you yearn to do, will turn you from being someone who dreams of becoming a “writer” to someone who actually is a writer because you write daily. Or, as close to daily, as possible.
Now trust me, I know that that is easier said than done. I have three children and three million excuses for not writing daily. Although, having just watched Oprah’s interview with the OctoMom, I suddenly perceive my life and the time available to me very differently!
So there have been many days when I have not written. Far more days when I have NOT written than when I have, if truth be told. What I have noticed is that I feel stressed and off-kilter and not myself when there have been too many of those non-writing days in a row. I’ve realized that it’s no coincedence that I feel more alive, more energized, more creative and more Sally when I do write, when I take improv or writing classes, or when I’m lost in a great book. I’ve also noticed that I’m a better mother (or, at least, a more “Sally” mother) during those times – funnier, more engaged, more patient – than during the times when I’m living a daily life that is not representative of the life I want to live and the person I want to be. So, win-win.
I’ve said before that it is exhausting to live when part of you is unplugged. It’s especially exhausting when the part of you that is unplugged is one of the more vital parts of who you are. When the writing part of my character is unplugged, I’m frankly far less pleasure to be around.
Trying to decide what you will do with your life is such a monumental decision to make. Whereas deciding what to do with your day – today – if you were to live it and count it as a separate life – feels much more manageable. That’s the intention I’ve woken up with this Monday morning and, here I am, at 7.46am writing. Had I woken up with the intention of being a writer, chances are another day would have passed without me doing the thing – writing – that is required to be a writer.
Where would you choose to put your focus today if you were to live and count this day as a life in and of itself?
Are your days representative of how you want your life to be when you look back on it at the end of your days? Which is what a life is, a series of days.
My challenge to you this Monday is to observe how you spend your day today. If this one day were to count as a separate life, how would you rate it? If you were to repeat this day many times over, would you end up living a life that would be satisfying to look back upon at the end of your days?
If not, think of one thing you can do tomorrow that would bring you just a tad closer to a day and life that you truly want to live.
Repeat this each day – some days it will be easier than others – but each day, wake up and live that day as if it were a life in and of itself. Do the things you yearn to do (hint: they are often far more simple and do-able than you might think), spend time with the people you adore, eat the foods you love, listen to the music that stirs your soul (there’s nothing I’ve found that Michael Buble, Tom Jones or Annie Lennox can’t make a little better), be the person you know you are.
If you’re struggling to remember the things you love to do or the things you yearn to do, you might find it helpful to read some Monday Mama Muse posts I wrote earlier this year:
I’d love to hear about the changes you make and – equally important – the things you choose to keep exactly as they are today.
As I was writing this post, I mistyped “begin” for the word “being” and, for some reason I found it intriguing that the two words contain the exact same letters.
So, I think my message is “begin being” who you know (deep down) you really are. Today. Then the next day. And the next day. Now there’s a life worth living.
It’s now 8.08am and I’m going for a cuddle with Leo. Doing what I want to be – a loving mother. So far this Monday is shaping up to be a good day and a good life.