Friday, September 25, 2009

Day six hundred and thirty one ... Such is life.

Why rush it?

Is there any reason besides not knowing?

The question I'm deflecting is a common one: what am I doing here?

I don't have too much gut wrenching prose to lay out on this page. I'm kind of in too good a mood to write about sobriety. It's safe to say that I'm still at it almost 21 months now and life is absolutely fabulous.

But I have all kinds of things that contribute to that last sentence. One of them is that I learned to just care a little less. Now this isn't to say that I have turned into a callous, pompous, prick. That's for you to tell me.

No, what I'm saying is that one of the things that I see many people struggling with in life is that they are so totally wrapped up worrying about the things they think they should be doing that it's taking away valuable time that could be spent appreciating where they are.

When we are young--like between the age when we can start remembering life events, until about 10 or so--our existence is a lot like a boxing ring. We have our corners where we get nourishment and encouragement, and we have a lot of space in between. And it is on this magical ring that we dance excitedly around, safely flailing ourselves at our daily obstacles. The edges, corners, and floors are all padded. There are ropes to hold us in if we get tossed to one side or another. And we have referees to tell us when it's time to stop and rest a while.

Bedtime, hypodermic needles, the mean kid across the street, AA battery deprivation, coloring inside the lines, eating paste, winter jacket aversion, hair cuts, spinach, vitamins, Aunt Stacia's house, clean clothes, etc. All these things (at least in my life) were a source for battle. I thought I knew what was best; my mother had a different opinion. And so, I learned to cherish my fun times with great zeal. It was a dramatic undertaking, this playtime. It felt like it almost wasn't going to come around again. Because even as a child we think that what goes on in that ring is the only thing that is going to ever happen to us. It's the main event. It has all the trappings of a Don King production in our minds, and when we lose (oh, and how we lose) to our fiery foe (the evil, loving parent) it makes all the papers in our microscopic world. The decision is heard from the basement to the attic and on all floors in between. Rats!

But the thing that I think I appreciated about my anxiety over the little battles back then, compared to now, is that I had much clearer sight lines despite my stature. I could see what mattered better because I hadn't crowded my ring, so to speak. I could look at my foe and say, "I only have one thing to worry about, and when this is all over it's either going to be in the past or it's going to be in the present, but I'm unable to complicate things by concerning myself with the future because I don't have so much experience with it."

I was simpler. I was clutter-free. I had higher expectations for winning because I hadn't lost as much as I have to this point presently.

On stage at the theaters we play at there are many microphones. Some are on stands to be used for soloists to sing into while standing in front. There are a few hand held mics that travel around the stage and are either placed on a table in front of a performer to pick up their voice above. Some singers get to pick up these mics and hold them and sing into it to the audience.

And then there are the overheads.

These are the mics that are--as the name would suggest--overhead a few feet in the air. They are small and unobtrusive. Some are angled slightly to pick up a wide scope; some are pointed straight down. But the thing about these diminutive mics is that they are created to do a very big job. And what's more is that this very important piece of equipment is also designed to be virtually undetectable. The only way the audience would be able to tell they were doing anything is if they were suddenly turned off in the middle of a song. Hey. Where did they go?

And these mics remind me of my goals. They are there in the distance supporting my performance below. There is some space between them because there's no need to crowd them together. Too many next to each other would seem like overkill. Not enough would seem like a waste. And the person in charge of setting the levels is sort of an amalgamation of everyone I made a promise to over the years. Everyone who believed that I could do something remarkable. Everyone who smiled and said "You make it look so easy."

Everyone who's not me.

As time goes on in my life I occasionally get an itch that is sort of asking me "are you doing what you should be doing in your life?"

I can never really, thoroughly answer this question.

It's not because I'm overwhelmed, though I often am.

It's not because I'm too busy doing things that I shouldn't, though that often was the case years ago.

It's not because I don't want to answer the question, which seems most likely though is never really an option.

No, the reason I can't thoroughly answer this simple question is because the boxing ring which is my life has become overrun with obstacles which means that there's increasingly less perspective.

I could start swinging at the first thing I saw, but that would most likely just land me in trouble.

I could set my sights on something far in the distance and try to work my way to that corner of the ring, but that would leave me open for problems on all sides on my way there.

I could just climb over the ropes and run for the exit signs, but that would forfeit the match.

Instead, I just care a little less.

That's right. I said it. I said it and I mean it.

Because if there's one thing that can stymie even the best prepared foe is confusion. And if you just take things as they come--calmly and coolly--and not go at them with unpredictable ferocity it makes them think that something is wrong with them. And that's when you can sneak by and say "See ya', sucker!" and head on down the ring to the problems that warrant honest attention.

Simple as that.

If there's one thing I have learned from going the way I have gone is that you can't worry too much. You can try your best and do what you think is right. You can look back and be happy with how you handled yourself. You can hope the fragile world which you have created and maintain can survive the next catastrophe. But you can only put so much into it before you get caught up in the maze you have drawn and lose sight of where the pencil first hit the paper.

You just have to trust that the overhead mics are on and working. They're all around you. If you try to single one out it defeats the purpose of their placement.







Do everything and anything you feel like as long as it takes the pressure off for a while. The overheads will pick it all up.

What am I doing here?

You're looking at it.

Thanks for reading,


1 comment: said...

As usual thanks for the thought provoking. It is true that in everyone's ring of life, you can't take on everything at once. If you do, you're destined to fail at something, so you pick and choose what you truly care about and worry about those things first and foremost.
Enjoy the rest of your trip.