It only takes a daily acquaintance to tell you she has a terminal disease to make you snap out of your pity party about writing insecurity and turning 40. Instantly, you cycle through all the wonderful things you’ve done, places you’ve seen, and people you’ve loved. You thank everything in the cosmos for giving you the time to do it and you start to beg for even more.
After the shock and sadness wear off, you again give thanks for all you’ve been given. And then you start to list through all the things you want to do. Instead of whining and wishing for them to come, you start working on them because you’re the lucky schlep who hasn’t gotten a life time limit…yet. You don’t want to let an opportunity pass you up because no one knows what’s around the next corner.
A couple weeks ago, a co-worker received a not-too-hopeful prognosis which jump-started me to move out of my stagnant state. Sure, I’d been filling time with busy-stuff at the 8-5 job, baking things, and riding my new bike. And these are all worthy things I want to keep doing. But they aren’t the things that fill my heart with accomplishment.
It really hit me when I watched Walter Mitty for the second time. (It’s one of those movies that reminds you to stop wishing and start living.) After Walter lost his job, he sat in a coffee shop to write his resume. He doesn’t talk about his decades in photograph handling which paid all the bills. Instead he highlights his recent adventures. Each line tears me up until I’m a sobbing mess because I feel him. I am him. I want to list through incredible things. And if I do, I better get to work.
For weeks, I’ve been saying how I’m going to have my own one hour radio show for a small town station. Finally, I made a move. I learned the equipment, got a show name (shamelessly stolen from The Airborne Toxic Event and thought up by a writer friend), and met up with the station manager to go over rules.
I started producing it. The first show took more hours than I thought it would. Thinking up something interesting to say was harder than I anticipated. The pressure after I hit the record button had me stumbling over words. Record was followed by delete. More recording. More deleting. When I started to get frustrated I remembered this was for fun. This was about doing one of those things I always wanted to do. I was filling a dream I never thought I would. I repeated the mantra “The journey, not the destination.”
I wish it wasn’t something tragic to kick myself in the ass. The reality is I hope this is the corner I needed to turn at this year’s half-mark. I want to do more. I want to feel alive again by taking my one step at a time in the direction I want to go. Because “wishing” never gets me anywhere. “Hoping” only reminds me I’m not moving. And “doing” is the only thing that truly makes me happy.