The problem with waiting until later is that later only becomes different when you do something now. Otherwise it continues to feel the same and you don't recognize that it is later now. So you never ever do that thing you want to do. It’s like waiting for the right timing. It doesn’t just come - you make the right timing by deciding so.
Here’s why you shouldn't wait: later never feels like it comes. It never feels different on its own. It always looks the same distance away. And it is - because later is the new now. So later is here and it's right now. So go for it.
Don’t keep waiting, expecting later to just feel different, waiting to feel ready. You probably won't. Do it anyway and do it now.
Here’s why it doesn't really matter if you wait: because your life will unfold perfectly as long as you believe it will. There’s nothing you can do that isn't part of your path, your journey, your discovery. Nothing that isn't perfect timing. Perfect unfolding.
Tonight I thought about writing. Or catching up on my online course that I'm now way behind on. Or picking up my house. Or writing to a friend. But instead I felt like lying on the couch and watching 7 episodes of the TV show Parenthood. Actually it was 8. As I compulsively watched one after another, completely pulled into their world and absorbed in their story, I felt bad about the “important” things I should be doing with my time…the things I've placed more value on than others. Constructive things. We all have lists and lists of them - whether they revolve around caring for our families and the tasks involved with creating a home or it's working to create the dreams we want to bring to life…we often say that these tasks, jobs, steps are more important than the things we're doing when we're not working towards these goals. We create this lovely little short circuit called guilt by doing these “other” things and not valuing them – sometimes even going even so far as to say we are wasting our lives on them.
But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nothing you can ever possibly do is a waste of your time or life (unless you decide it is - because you're in charge here). I might take this all back someday - my husband tells me all the time it's a girl's prerogative to change her mind. But for now, this is what I believe:
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, you can do is a waste of your time unless you view it that way.
I watched 6 hours of TV tonight. I started out feeling like I was escaping from all the things I should be doing - why am I not working on my big goals and dreams? At least taking some little steps with my few hours of free time. Asking myself, why am I lazy? Why do I procrastinate? Why do I get like this? And then imagining a downward spiral of where this current indulgence is going to lead me. But I was glued. I couldn't stop watching and maybe I was just tired of feeling bad about it. Maybe I had a moment of inspiration. I don't know where it came from, that mysterious land from which our thoughts emerge. But I thought what if this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing? What if this binge TV watching is right where I'm supposed to be? I thought maybe I could get a reverse lesson out of it - like the experience would eventually show me what I do want to be doing by realizing that this experience is not what I want.
But it wasn't that. That was still a negative judgment. When I let that go, too, it all kind of flooded in…thought by thought.
Here’s what I learned from watching 8 episodes of Parenthood, when I finally stopped negatively judging what I was doing:
- The things that matter most to us, we just need to do them. Even if they seem crazy/random/unrelated to anything else. If we stop placing value on some acts as better or more important than others, we might realize that something seemingly insignificant that we need to do might have great unexpected impact. Maybe it’s more important for me to make a friend smile when they need it than to publish a book for thousands to read. My friends and family have been placed in my care. Just like my baby girl. They have been given to me and placed close so I can give them extra care and attention.
- The people we love mean everything. However you define that, whoever those people are for you…we are so entangled. We matter to each other so much. The simple act of listening, of being there, of showing up when someone we love is confused or lonely, or is excited and wants to celebrate their life with us. We live for each other. We are home to each other, as my dear friend Brian Andreas says. Don’t devalue those acts. Don’t add them to a list of things to do later. Later is the new now.
- Family and friends mean everything to me. You might think I just said that, but I don't think I emphasized it enough. We exist to take care of each other. That’s why babies are born to parents. That’s why we want friends. We want to share, to relate, to be seen and understood. We need each other. Don’t undervalue the importance of the little acts in life that connect us like this.
- Even if you wait and wait and wait and avoid sharing the truth, whatever your truth is, it's never too late. Truths want to be shared and eventually they will find their way out of you because they can't be contained. So it doesn't matter how long you've waited or imagine waiting. It will happen. You can't help it. It’s an aspect of truth itself - like the way water can't help being wet. It just is.
- Sometimes the steps I take on my path aren't all lined up one in front of the other. Sometimes it looks more like interpretive dance. Or leap frog. What I've judged as jumping from one thing to the next and being all over the place, actually allows me to collect all the skills and wisdom I need - in the perfect order. It’s just that my brain, even though it sees where I want to go, can't necessarily see how things are going to happen to get me there. I need to remember to trust my excitement over my logic. It’s my excitement that is the true yardstick of what's right for me. It’s the compass and the organizing principle in my life. Trust my excitement.
- If it doesn't exist or you can't find what you need, maybe it's your job to invent it.
- Laughing and crying go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like bacon and eggs. It doesn't matter which comes first, or causes the other. If you have them at the same time, it's like your heart is breathing.
- Sometimes loving someone is seeing them and what they need in their hearts and making space for it, even if it means letting go of our ideas of what is right and wrong – what is right for us might not be right for someone else.
- It’s going to be ok. No matter what we are feeling or experience, it will change. At some point it will feel different. It won't stay the same forever. It can't. Everything changes. That’s not a hopeful message, that's a law of the universe. Everything changes.
So what I’m trying to say here is don’t negatively judge your decisions…
Leave a space for the possibility that your choices are bringing you exactly what you need in every given moment.
In that space you just might find that the wisdom from those experiences gives you an unexpected surprise, or, at the very least, the clarity to make a different choice next time without feeling badly about your past choices.
I know you have dreams – things you yearn to make happen. If you’ve put them off waiting for later to magically make you ready, to give you more of whatever you think you need to make it happen (time/experience/knowledge/motivation), don’t worry about it. In a round-about-in-through-the-back-door kind of way, it has. Don’t feel guilty. Learn from it and choose what you want now. And at the same time make sure you don’t miss out completely because you didn’t realize later is here right now, always waiting for you, just as ready as you are.