This started out as a Five Minute Friday post.
And it’s Tuesday.
I know. And it’s eating me alive.
But the truth is, I’m desperate. I’m desperate for words to flow from my fingertips again, in a way they haven’t in a long time. My last post was in May. And the one before that in July of the previous year. I don’t know what happened, exactly.
All of it adding up to a blob on the couch that generally resembles me, trying unsuccessfully to jumpstart my brain, to reclaim it from the foggy mush it seems to have become.
As you can probably imagine, seven seasons of Game of Thrones in less than two months doesn’t take you far in the “Reclaim Your Brain” adventure. For that matter, neither does rewatching the entire series of Gilmore Girls or falling asleep to episodes of Friends that you memorized long ago.
Or scrolling Facebook.
All of this led up to yesterday, when I re-introduced Screen Free Sundays- the day when the only reason for pulling out my phone or computer is to look up that soup recipe (because it’s also Soup Sunday) or texting my husband. Yesterday was the first day in ages my screen-time tracking app on my phone registered less than an hour. I think at one point last week I actually had a 12 hour day- but that doesn’t totally count because it included all that time YouTube was pulled up and playing “Calming Classical Music for Cats” all night long in a desperate attempt to keep our new kitten from howling “HEWWWOOOO???” under the bathroom door so I could sleep guilt-free.
Side note: the kitten is now sleeping in my bed.
And the dogs hate my guts.
And do you know what’s funny about all this screen-time I’m logging? I actually have visions of myself with my big hipster glasses in an ugly thrift store armchair reading poetry and novels by the light of my one lamp with a cup of tea at night. Totally screen-free.
Or editing pictures I took and actually doing something with them.
Or writing my own book or blog post.
My point is this- all these things I want to do? I’m not doing them. And then I’m hemming and hawing over all the lost time, how I never have any time to write or photograph or take the kids on a hike.
I was talking to my mom the other day and she was telling me about this art show she and my dad went to. They saw a lot of great art, but she kept coming back to this photographer who had photos of beautiful countrysides like Ireland. And she kept telling me that could be me.
And do you know what I said?
I said, “Sure. If I didn’t have these three kids that I home school. Or these animals that I can’t leave all the time. Or if my husband was home more often.”
I made excuses.
My tendency is to dream the big dreams and then let fear of failure or imperfection take over. And so I zone out. I play it safe. I create this little bubble and surround myself with sweet-smelling excuses as to why I can’t do something I dream of doing.
And slowly, but surely, resentment creeps in.
But I’m not resenting myself. That would make too much sense. That would be too truthful, too painful.
I start quietly resenting all the people who are succeeding at their dreams.
Even resenting of all the people trying to succeed at their dreams.
And that is ridiculous.
I’ve noticed it now. I know it’s there- creeping around under the surface, keeping me safe but not sound.
Isn’t that the way it is? Our biological first reaction is to hole up and protect. Our fear, that maybe thousands of years ago was useful in keeping us alive, just tends to get in the way now.
We get complacent. We get comfortable. We fear losing our comfort or being humiliated or even just failing ourselves. And before we know it we’re 33, 53, 73 years old, looking back and thinking, “If only I had. . .”
So how do we turn that around? How do we step outside our little safety bubbles and really live the lives we want to live?
Here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m taking my camera to soccer practice that just so happens to be on a lake at golden hour. And I’m remembering to find the beauty around me instead of waiting for big moments and fancy vacations.
I’m turning calming music on while I read with a cup of tea after the kids go to bed instead of watching a show I’ve seen a hundred times.
I’m planning vacations to exotic places instead of saying, “When the kids are out of the house. . .”
And I’m writing.