I write about the lessons I need to learn the most.
It is an exercise in humility—I’m not sure I have much to offer, yet I remain hopeful that there is something redeemable about what I have to say.
Do you ever wake up and think, “I’m not sure how I’m going to get through this day?” I ask myself this question more often than I’d like because most of the time I’m aware that I get myself into my own messes. Don’t get me wrong, by comparison, my life is charmed. I’m not walking twenty miles a day just to get to school. I’m not worried whether my home might be robbed or bombed, but I still feel overwhelmed sometimes.
Like many of us, my life is consumed with deadlines, expectations, and hopes, whether my own or someone else’s. My yesterdays end up like movies I watched years ago: dull and blurred piecemeal. I wish I remembered what I had for lunch yesterday.
When did lunch become something I just grabbed?
Damn you Jimmy Johns, with your delicious sandwiches and super speedy service.
I’m tired of going through life like a courier. I want to return to a life that is meant to be lived. What would it be like if I could take up residence in every minute and every hour? I forget this so much. I forget that I live.
I forget that I am meant for more than only life’s minutia.
When I was a kid, I would swim into the deep end of the pool. I would take a long, slow breath and find myself somewhere halfway between a bottom and a surface of what might as well have been an ocean. I would float there for as long as my lungs would allow. I soaked in the weightlessness of it. I loved getting lost in those moments, not sure which way was up or down, not caring what would happen when I broke the surface.
All that mattered to me was the moment.
As an adult, I’m too busy swimming laps to notice that I’m weightless. The only direction I notice is what’s in front of me and so I forget that I can plunge deep, that to be still is an exercise in itself. I’m too driven for that. I’ve forgotten that every moment has something to discover, something to experience or feel. I’ve forgotten this because I’m a man in America, which means I’m too afraid to fail. If I stop, I die.
I will engage in every act of pretense to conceal the very fact that I am afraid even if it kills me. Of course, writing about this fear exposes it, which breaks the man code and may just save my life. I want to accomplish it all, so I fill my schedule with things. It’s just full of enough tasks to make me feel like I’ve completed something that day. Who am I kidding? I rarely feel satisfied at the end of the day. Instead, I fill even the moments of rest that I’ve earned with more stuff.
And so I unconsciously collude in my own failure narrative.
So what do I do? To me, the answer is now. It is right in this moment. It is the feel of they keyboard beneath my fingers. It is the anticipation and hope in my soul that these words will make an impact on both the reader and the writer. It is the people across from me, struggling to make sense of a relationship that is falling apart. It is the voice on the other end of the phone, offering support or needing it. It is the woman beside me, always beside me, who gently laces her smooth fingers between mine. It is these moments that make me who I am.
I’m not what I accomplish.
I’m not what I finish.
We are very concerned with what we’ll look back on at the end of our lives, but I’ve decided that when I reach that moment, I don’t want to look back. I don’t want to be concerned with legacy. I don’t want to look forward into that good night that we must all embrace, or against which we must all rage.
When I reach the end of my life, I want to be too busy swimming in the deep end to notice.
Chances are, I won’t even remember why I was working so damn hard in the first place.
More Awesome from Mathis:
Author: Mathis Kennington
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Mary on Flickr