Last week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News; Date: May 31, 2018; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A3

Giv­ing up to have what you want

At the last library con­fer­ence I attended, I heard a famous author give a moti­va­tional talk about liv­ing well. She made a state­ment that smacked me in the face and has stayed in my brain ever since.

What are you will­ing to give up,” she asked, “to have the life you pre­tend you want?”

Nat­u­rally, we all protested. No one thinks they are pre­tend­ing to want a par­tic­u­lar life, except maybe the peo­ple who want to be super­heroes. I have a men­tal image of the life I want to live. But what was I will­ing to sac­ri­fice to get it?

I went home and made a list of all the things I do now, a list of all the things I want to be doing, and com­pared them. It was the most fright­en­ing thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done some pretty fright­en­ing things, like deep-sea div­ing, fly­ing on a wire over Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard, and rais­ing a son.

For­tu­nately, a few things showed up on both lists. I ride my horse, and I want to ride my horse. The same goes for writ­ing, and for vol­un­teer­ing at the library. From there, the lists tended to veer away from each other. As I read the list of what I do, I won­dered if I could even get to the other list from where I was.

It was a pretty wide gap to leap.

At least, I knew what things I had to be will­ing to give up now. I just didn’t know how I’d be able to sur­ren­der them. I’ve done some things for such a long time, it felt like I’d be remov­ing tattoos.

Some peo­ple think that Life gives you what­ever you envi­sion, for bet­ter or worse. I don’t know if that’s true, but it seemed that, as soon as I set my sights on what I wanted to do, Life had a way of mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to do any­thing else.

One of the things that had become a “have-to” was my involve­ment in a local orga­ni­za­tion. I love the orga­ni­za­tion and the peo­ple, but my role in it had become drain­ing. This year, I stepped back, try­ing to lessen my involve­ment, but know­ing I’d jump in at the first request.

As the new year kicked in, my sched­ule exploded with events revolv­ing around three activ­i­ties: rid­ing, writ­ing, and the library. I’ve got horse shows to go to, writ­ing con­fer­ences to teach at, and library con­ven­tions, not to men­tion all the meet­ings about our library’s cen­ten­nial celebration.

Sud­denly, I was unable to attend the other organization’s meet­ings. One obsta­cle fell, with very lit­tle pain.

Of course, there are some items on the “have-to” list that are inescapable. Laun­dry and house clean­ing come to mind. Per­haps one day I’ll be rich enough to pay some­one to do them for me, but in the mean­time, I think I’ll con­sider them mind­less activ­i­ties that allow my brain to roam.

If I rename them “Head Exer­cises,” I can move them to the other list.

I still feel guilty about the things on my “have-to” list that I’m aban­don­ing. Will I ever return to that level of involve­ment in that group? It’s pos­si­ble. I’d like to think my “want-to” list is flexible.

I just hope I am.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

Leave a Reply