I was not always me. This is how I decided I didn’t have time to not be me anymore.
It was 6 years ago this month, and I had just spent months being a Sad Shmuck. I was home from a family trip to Orlando, Florida. My best friend and roommate had come along- my family had a spare ticket. The ticket was spare was because it was SUPPOSED to belong to my then-girlfriend, but we had broken up a few months before. The relationship hadn’t been going well, in retrospect. The writing was on the wall, but I was hoping there was a typo. The split came- angry, hurtful, and bitter. Before the split-up, I had always been a bit of a shmuck- not too much personal discipline, or reason to have any. Now though, things were worse. For a while, I saw little point in EVER having any. I knew I couldn’t do it, I knew it would all end in tears, and I knew it was all pointless. I was a Sad Shmuck.
I needed to get rid of him, or get him out of the driver’s seat. The self-pitying, self-absorbed Sad Shmuck was dragging me down, and if I didn’t do something about him- and myself- it was going to ruin everything good in my life.
I was angry, and in pain. It was energy going to waste- it needed to go somewhere else. Out. Ideally efficiently, non-destructively, and legally.
Joining a gym seemed like a good idea.
Sacked out on my busted mattress-on-the-floor bed, in sheets I didn’t wash often enough, I perused the local gym listings. The Sad Shmuck piped up.
“Where will I find the time?”
“It costs too much to join the gym!”
“I work weird hours.”
The last two questions were solved with the discovery of Snap Fitness– a franchise of 24-hour gyms, with a $50/month membership I could easily budget for.
The first question, however, was solved with an epiphany-
“I was doing this RIGHT NOW.”
As I read her blog (like you folks all should too– both of my sisters are fantastic writers), I tried to answer the question… and realized I couldn’t. Everything I do now, I wouldn’t give up to do something else. The life I live is not perfect or easy, and I feel dissatisfied sometimes. What I DO, however- I feel no regrets for any of it. The only time I feel I waste is when I am doing nothing, or wavering in indecision- and I realized that I was not always this way. It all changed that day, laying on my groady bed looking up gyms, when I finally learned-
“YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR WHAT YOU MAKE TIME FOR.”
Here I was, lying in bed on the computer like always- but now it was to do something GOOD for myself. It was THAT EASY.
(An aside here: I still dearly love and remember those communities, particularly on Second Life- I have dear friends today I may not have met otherwise because of them.)
I had the time. I ALWAYS had the time. My life, my health, my fitness all had to become at LEAST as important to me as staring at a screen and loafing in my pajamas until evening, and then wandering out to Wawa for a sandwich and candy.
The hardest day reallocating my time was the first…. and the easiest was the second.
If I had time to binge watch old Warehouse 13 episodes, I had time to do some exercises in the living room.
If I had time to flip through old internet memes, I had time to put thoughts down on paper and fall in love with writing again.
I definitively don’t live a stress-free life.
A happy life is not necessarily either.
What I do have is the freedom- personally found, regularly practiced- to devote my time and energy to the activities that bring me joy. You can fill libraries with books on personal management and time management. There are people who get paid to talk your ears off about it.
All of them can get boiled down right here:
1. Only make commitments that you need to/want to- to others AND yourself.
2. Honor the commitments you DO make- to others AND yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk away from bad commitments – to others AND yourself.
And, most importantly,
4. YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR WHAT YOU MAKE TIME FOR.
That’s all for now. Remember the wise words of Zathras-
“Time? Cannot run out of time. There is INFINITE time. YOU are finite. Zathras is finite. This… is wrong tool.”
– Zathras (Tim Choate), Babylon 5, “War Without End”