He speaks about how we make excuses for not doing things, things we supposedly want to do, except that, well, we don’t have the time, or we’re too fat, or we don’t have enough money. How it’s easy to think that we want to do those things but find that when what we thought was the obstacle is removed, we still don’t do them.
Marshall comments about the time before he lost weight in junior high:
I’d often fantasize about my glorious post-fat future. Oh, the question wasn’t about what I would do after being fat; the question was, what wouldn’t I do? This gave me a certain amount of motivation, but in retrospect it was a recipe for grand malprocrastination. I pushed everything into the then-speculative after-fat era. Should I play music? Nah, I’ll do it when I’m not fat. Should I act more? Nah, I’ll do it when I’m not fat. Should I maybe make some more friends? Nah, I’ll do it when I’m not fat. Now are you gonna pass that tray of peanut-buttered bagels, or aren’t you?
[Go read the whole piece. Very convicting stuff.]
Lots of us (most of us?) do this or a version of this. We substitute losing weight with “having more time”, “having more money”, “once the kids have moved out”, or even “once I retire”. About three seconds of introspection on my part suggests that I have more free time than the majority of 50-year-old women, yet not that much to show for it.
That’s not to say the past few years have been easy. Job-loss, international moves, teenagers, depression, downsizing have at times been paralyzing. Just moving from a nine-to-five job to grad school to full-time motherhood took me a few years of adjustment. It really did a number on my sense of self, particularly when the world around me really doesn’t value the work of a woman at home, even when it’s her choice. Plus a partner with a high stress job and relatively little free time.
But crossing the threshold to the big 5-0 has caused me to pause and consider plans for the next fifty. I’ll always be a wife and mother. A very part-time housekeeper. I know that I want to get more involved in genealogy, perhaps starting a consulting business as I work my way through my own research and complete course-work. Z wants me to do some investment/trading but I’m not sure that I’m really jazzed by that (although I’ve done pretty well in with my fake portolio.) I’m involved in volunteer work and enjoy singing in choirs. I’m taking courses and encouraging my sons in their work and life outside of school. I attend arts events with Zouheir and/or the kids, with friends, and on my own. I like to do all manner of needlework and sewing.
I remember a management training course based on Stephen Covey’s First Things First. We were supposed to think about what our obituary would look like: how people would remember us after we died. I remember thinking that the exercise seemed kind of arrogant. Why would you care, or want to think about how other people thought of your life? But yet it was compelling. What DID you want to be remembered for? What were the accomplishments that you would want your friends and family to remark on? I’m not sure that I’ve figured this out yet. But I know that I spend a lot of my 24 hours not doing things that are notable whatsoever, or support notable goals. Mindless internet surfing comes to mind. Running errands every day that I should be grouping into once or twice a week forays. Perhaps a little goal-setting is in order as I begin the next fifty, not to stress myself out but to link my core values with how I actually spend a lot of my time. And to just get things done.