Orange County Register — North County News; Date: May 31, 2018; Section: News; Page Number: A3
WHAT A DAY
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].