Did you keep track of how much time passed while you read that quote? I’m guessing you didn’t, because I’m assuming you’re normal. Anyway time did pass and whether it was a few seconds, or a minute because you reread it a few times, we are now in the future.
It’s said that time waits for no one, but sometimes we find ourselves waiting for time. It’s like there’s a bunch of ducks in our minds, and we’re waiting for them to all line up before we get up and go do that big thing we’ve been wanting to do.
I do this on a fairly regular basis. In fact, I recently found myself waiting for time (and everything else) to be just right before I got off my duff and hit the bricks. Literally.
Running away from running
Many years ago, I was a regular runner. Our family lived in Washington, DC where the narrow streets and beautiful scenery were perfect for long, early morning runs. After my wife had a baby and we made a cross-country move, I got out of the habit.
My running shoes were crushed in the back of the closet behind keepsake boxes, out of sight and out of mind. After a dozen years of abstinence, I decided that it was time to get back on the road. I missed the dopamine, sure, but I also missed the feeling of accomplishment and the bonus benefit of heart health.
Before dusting off my shoes, I naturally decided that I would start running again when our finances were better.
If that sentence threw you, I get it. It makes no sense. What does one have to do with the other? I had decent enough shoes. I wasn’t confined under house arrest with an ankle monitor. In reality, there was nothing materially standing in my way of pounding the pavement and manufacturing all those wonderful mood-lifting brain chemicals. I had created my own nonsensical diversion.
Instead of running, I threw myself into work. On some level, I figured that the harder I hustled, the faster I would get to a place where I “could” start running again. The thing is, I had it all backwards. I wasted a lot of time being stressed out and waiting until circumstances were just perfect. As you can probably guess, that perfection never arrived.
One day, I decided that I had been cooped up at home too long and went for a walk. As I walked, I thought about my financial situation. Even though it wasn’t improving quickly, my hustling was bearing some fruit. When I got home, I felt a little better about my situation. Less stressed. I started making regular walks a part of my life. The more I did it, the more I realized that putting off running until my money situation was fixed was making me more stressed and less effective at solving my problems.
So I actually started running again. Sure, I started slow. My body was a dozen years older, and took some time to agree that we should be moving like that on purpose. The regular practice of running helped me get to a mental place where I could take a birds-eye view of my financial issues. I realized that these struggles were going to be around for a while, and gave myself permission to do the things I want to do in the meantime.
The moral here is not that we should all start running – I wouldn’t do that to you. As multipods, we often find ourselves looking forward to the next thing we want to accomplish, learn or simply try. If you’re like me, you frequently put that next thing on a high shelf until all conditions are copasetic. I’m here to break it to you, gently, that that will never happen. The stars won’t align before you take any action.
Just dip your toe in
What if, instead of putting that thing away completely, you could break it off into little chunks? For example, say you’d like to live as an ex-pat in Croatia. The problem is, you don’t have any contacts there, you don’t speak a lick of Croatian, and you’re upside-down on your mortgage. Rather than tabling your emigration plan until those things resolve themselves (they never will), take some baby steps toward your thing.
Why not dip your toe in the big pond that is Twitter and meet some Croatian ex-pats? Or any ex-pats. Or someone named Pat. The point is, while you’re waiting around for the perfect conditions to allow you to say Dovidenja to your current country, you could immerse yourself in All Things Croatian. The time is going to pass anyway.
It’s possible that while you’re taking those baby steps into your next thing, you’ll discover that maybe you’re not so ga-ga over the idea anymore. That’s okay. In fact, it’s common for multipotentialites to experience that feeling. It comes with the territory. If you start feeling uninspired about your big next thing, you could also put it to the side for a while. There will be another next thing right around the corner, or perhaps already queued up and ready for you to explore.
But if you are still passionate about your new thing, don’t let time pass while you wait on a park bench for the perfect conditions to walk by. I’ll leave you with a quote by Haruki Murakami:
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.“
Actually, while appropriate, I can’t leave you with that. How about something a little more uplifting:
Is there a fabulous adventure, dream project, or simple daily practice you’ve been putting off starting? What are the stories you tell yourself to delay getting started?