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The other day I was having dinner at a friend’s house.
We’ve known each other for ages but….
…sometimes I swear I could wring her neck.
(Yes, she’s reading.)
The truth is, even though I hate the phrase “having it all” – she really does seem to have it all. A highly accomplished career, good health, wonderful husband, two amazing kids, and a comfortable home.
But that’s not my concern.
My concern is she’s missing it.
In other words, the things that don’t matter are distracting her from the things that do.
I got a peek of this at dinner while I awkwardly poured the wine and – in the space of about a minute – she snapped at her husband, ran her kids out of the kitchen, grumbled about an incoming work email (but answered it anyway), and went on about a leaky roof in the bedroom.
Here comes the disclaimer:
My friend would like you to know that this was a Wednesday evening rife with all the mid-week craziness not usually found on, say, a Sunday afternoon.
And while I promised to include her side in this post, I did not promise to censor my response – so here it is:
Sometimes what we think of as the exception is actually the norm we’ve created but don’t want to admit.
And so we distract ourselves with busy-ness, make no real attempt to change, play victim to the overwhelm of life, and seek comrades willing to exchange a glass of pinot for wallowing in the bunker of neurosis.
My friend knows this already, but I’m not the person to call when misery needs company.
I’m the person to call when complaining no longer serves and it’s time do the real work of making decisions based on what matters most.
Now…I want to be clear that there’s no question my friend loves her kids in the infinite way that only a parent can.
She would take a bullet for her husband.
And, deep down, she knows she has it good.
The problem is she’s taking it for granted.
She’s acting as if the kids will always be running around the kitchen. (They won’t.)
As if the husband is always going to be her punching bag. (He isn’t.)
And that Wednesdays are always crazy for everyone. (They aren’t.)
To be honest, we get along so well because it’s a familiar struggle.
In fact, I remember saying to my husband when my youngest son was 1-ish and STILL not sleeping through the night that I wished I could just “fast forward a year” so we could all get some rest.
At the time, I was 100% serious – but these days I would give anything to go back to when it was just me and that tiny baby, bonding in the rocking chair at 2am.
Now he won’t even let me make his breakfast.
But that’s the inverted gift of getting older, right? It gives us some perspective on days as a finite resource.
Well…at least it would if we stopped running long enough to allow it. And so if you recognize that you’re running too, I’ll tell you what I told my friend:
At some point you’re going to die. Is this how you want to live?
Not to be macabre, but most of us probably have more days behind us than ahead of us – and I think if we truly understood that at a deep, soul level we would spend our time more consciously.
This – right now – is your life.
Don’t miss it.