I remember a time in college where I was caught in this weird sort of limbo, where I was always kind of around, but I didn?t really participate. I would go out to local bars, but didn?t feel much like talking, because, for the most part, I don?t like crowds. Still, I would show up and chat a bit with people I knew, but I wasn?t really involved. Some of the times I went simply because I was lonely or bored, but others because I felt like if I stayed home, I might have missed something good, whateI remember a time in college where I was caught in this weird sort of limbo, where I was always kind of around, but I didn?t really participate. I would go out to local bars, but didn?t feel much like talking, because, for the most part, I don?t like crowds. Still, I would show up and chat a bit with people I knew, but I wasn?t really involved. Some of the times I went simply because I was lonely or bored, but others because I felt like if I stayed home, I might have missed something good, whatever ?good? meant.
But it was deeper than that. For years and years I had a guitar?an electric for a while, an acoustic for a while?but I never learned more than a few chords. Why? Because on some level I felt like if I couldn?t get good in like, four days, then what was the point? If I practiced and practiced and practiced and practiced, I might be sort of moderately okay … [i]eventually[/i]. But I wanted to be good right now. Today. Immediately.
Besides, if I was busy practicing, during those times, I wouldn?t have been able to do … something else.
Same thing with exercise. How many times did I say: [i]Okay, I?m gonna get in shape, gonna flatten my gut, gonna get six-pack abs, gonna lift weights, gonna learn karate[/i]. Well, back in those days I didn?t get in shape, I didn?t flatten my gut, get six-pack abs, lift weights or learn karate. Why? Again, because it would have taken too long. And working out would have kept me from doing anything else. Not that I filled that time with anything worth noting. I wasn?t participating in much: I wasn?t making connections with other people, even though I was physically present.
I?ve since gotten in shape, became a regular racquetballer and swimmer for a few years, and even took Kung Fu and Chinese kickboxing for a while (Although, my gut only left me for a few months about ten years ago, and has since been like a friend who needs a place to stay for a few days and winds up moving in; I want him to go, but I can?t quite get myself to kick him out).
[b]The Choice Not Chosen[/b]
But over the years I began to realize that at least one key reason I didn?t commit to exercise or guitar or other activities was that I wasn?t making my peace with the choices I didn?t choose. For example, if had committed to practicing my guitar an hour a day four days a week, that would have meant not going out, seeing people or just being available?for each of those single hours I was practicing.
Because I wanted to have [i]all [/i]of my options open to me at all times to do any number of [i]other [/i]things, I committed to nothing.
And yet had I actually practiced several days a week, in a year?s time, or two years time, I [i]would[/i] have been at least okay at the guitar and enjoying it more and more as I improved (nope, still haven?t learned). Had I hit the gym regularly, I would have looked better, been healthier.
And that?s where I really missed out back then. Being on call to go … wherever … would only have been of value had I actually gone places and done things when opportunity knocked. Which, for a while, I didn?t. I was in constant waiting mode. And I?m not sure what I was waiting for.
It?s like never settling down in a relationship because there are just too many other people out there who [i]might[/i] be better. It?s always about what [i]might be[/i] rather than [i]what is.[/i]
This sense of … waiting … really peaked for me when I was around 21, and lasted about a year, and while I certainly became more active in the years subsequent to that time, I still struggled with it for a long time. I still need reminders now and again to actively participate with any number of people, although today it?s because my schedule is so maxed out that I sometimes overlook what?s right in front of me. But back then, I wasn?t maximizing; I was minimizing, and then sulking about not having more fun. About not connecting.
[b]Participation is its Own Reward[/b]
Somewhere along the line, though, I really started to focus on this idea of choosing?and not choosing, which is a big key to my being a participant in just about anything. For example, there were a few times before I got married?not many, but a few?when Liz would want us to go away for the weekend to visit one of her friends or relatives, and I wouldn?t want to, because somewhere deep down I thought if I went to visit [i]them[/i] I would be missing out on [i]something else[/i].
But that?s really not the case. By going on these little trips, by engaging with other people … that?s when I feel most fulfilled. I don?t feel like I?m missing out on something else. The participating [i]is[/i] the something else. For a long while I was missing out on making connections with other people because I was on stand-by waiting for the chance [i]to[/i] make a connection.
It?s like letting train after train after train go by just waiting for the [i]right[/i] train to arrive. I can?t always know when the right train comes along, but never choosing pretty much guarantees that I?ll get nowhere fast.
The times I felt most in conflict came about because I hadn?t made peace with what I would be giving up, rather than focusing on what I would be gaining.
M. Scott Peck writes about this idea in his book, [i]In Search of Stones[/i]. As he put it: [i]Each choice of an option is usually foreclosure of another. Choose to go to medical school and it is not likely you will ever go to law school. Choose the track of hopefully becoming a corporation CEO and you will likely choose not fulfill your potential for motherhood. [/i](Well, this was written about 15 years ago, but you get the idea).
[b]Missing Out is A-Okay[/b]
Today, if anything, I struggle with committing to too many things. But when I do choose I try to be aware of what I?m choosing, and also what I know I?m giving up as a result.
For example, it?s easier for me to get up before 5 am because I?ve made my peace with what I don?t choose: Sleep! (Actually, I do actually sleep a 7 to 8 hours a night). To facilitate this schedule, I also choose to go to bed earlier than I used to?around 9:30 p.m.?rather than staying up watching TV until 11 (or even 2 or 3 a.m. on the weekends), which I also happen to enjoy and did almost my whole life. But I?m okay not keeping those late hours anymore because of I what I get in return.
I?m going to miss out on things. It?s gonna happen. Forever and ever. But the more I make my peace with what I don?t choose?by letting go of all the other things I [i]could[/i] be doing?the more I find it easier to relax and enjoy myself with what I do choose.
Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/02/14 20:15