As a writer I’ve often been told to begin with the end in mind and work back from there. I just wrote that sentence because I have no idea where this post will go. I didn’t have an idea when I sat down- other than, “I should probably write some crap in my blog”. That’s pretty much how I do everything in my life, ya know, like “Oh, I should probably pay the light bill before they cut it off” or “I should probably fill the car with gas before it runs out” or “I should probably get out of bed and do my job” or “I should probably feed my children” or , you get the idea. I’m winging it. And I think you’re all winging it too. Anyhoo, I should probably get on to the next paragraph- whatever that’s going to be about.
Don’t get me wrong, I love checking shit off my to-do list. But, usually when putting together said to-do list I include things I’ve already done that day then throw in a couple of other tasks I’ll never do; for example clean out my closet or organize my sock drawer- neither of those things will ever happen. Then I cross out the things I’ve already done and leave the other baloney for another day- ya know- that magical day when I somehow find the motivation and time to do that crap. Looking at the list, I feel pretty accomplished and it lets me off the hook for actually doing that other stuff; because, “Look! I’ve done 8 things out of 10 on my to-do list. I’m a rock star”. No, I don’t feel guilty that I completed them before I wrote them down.
I just read that paragraph, and can see why that list ain’t working out so great. I should probably go add “only write down things you haven’t done” on that to-do list and check it off. Done! I feel so much better.
They say setting goals and then taking small steps is the best way to achieve dreams and self fulfillment and whatever else you’re heart desires. I guess “they” being the motivational speaker/writer who is making a pile of money telling you how to live without doing anything more than selling you bullshit about how to live- has this whole life shit figured out. And the rest of us are all lined up with our maxed out credit cards ready to buy that bullshit in hopes that we can achieve our dreams. Here’s a tip- their goal is for you to buy their drivel- they have no idea what your goals are or what you need to do to achieve them or even give two shits about you. They’re achieving their dream of ripping you off and lining their pockets.
Recently, I was discussing “life goals” with a friend of mine- yeah, I know, it is so 1990’s Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sounding. In a former life, I had a boss who liked to think she was also our own personal Oprah; she literally assigned us the 7 Habits of Annoying Ass People book to read and told us to start implementing it in our everyday life. We were forced to BUY and USE the special daily planner he was selling us for $85 dollars (ya know, because I could afford that on the measly $16,000 a year she was paying me) and write down how we were “sharpening the saw” each day and then go back and fill her in. Am I in fucking school?? I wasn’t in the job for homework- I was in my 20s and just wanted to earn money to spend on drugs and alcohol. Sheesh woman, get a clue. Furthermore, my dear, if someone tells me I have to do something because they think it will make me a better person, my first thought is, “fuck off, you work on you and I’ll take care of myself”.
Excuse me, phone call.
Well, that could not have been a more ironic phone call. It was a friend of mine telling me about a motivational speaker she just heard and how wonderful he was; how it was so helpful in learning about forgiveness, moving on, starting over and setting goals. Blah, blah, blah. Alright, universe, I hear you loud and clear. Quitcher whinin’ and actually do something instead of writing about how you don’t want to do anything, can’t do anything and life ain’t worth living and all that hogwash. (Hogwash- you like that? Yeah, I just looked up “crap” in the thesaurus and found that little gem. It sounds all Tom Sawyerish doesn’t it? I’m a regular Mark Twain).
Life happens no matter what steps you take or how hard you try to steer it the way you’d like- life will happen. The outcome is always uncertain. Ok- you’re right, you do have a certain amount of control. I mean, I’ve never tried heroin and I never plan to do so- so me dying of a heroin overdose is highly unlikely. Yay for me- there’s a goal I can honestly stick with.
However, in my recent discussion about what I want to be when I grow up, I told my friend- more of an acquaintance but whatevs, about writing and comedy and how those are the only things I’ve ever truly wanted to do with my life. As a single man, with no children and nothing really holding him to any certain responsibilities, he offered this very enlightening advice, “Well, I say just do whatever you have to do to make that happen”. Umm…okay. (To the gentleman of whom I’m writing- I really do appreciate your ear and you should feel good that I included you in this post- so, you’re welcome).
I’ve been chewing on that advice for a couple of weeks. Turning it over and over in my head, trying to figure out how to do exactly what he advised. And he is absolutely right, his one little sentence summed up all the crapola every motivational speaker, self-help book, therapist, shrink and guru has ever told me. So, that’s what I’m doing. I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I’m already doing it- right now even. I want to be a stand-up comic- and I am a stand up comic. I’ve been paid for writing, I’ve been paid for comedy- I am doing what I WANT to do- sure it doesn’t pay the bills, but who the hell cares? Old Van Gogh never sold a goddamn painting in his life, but he kept on painting- even after cutting off an ear. (Note to self, leave “cutting off ear” off the to-do list).
So why am I so doom and gloom and all that hogwash? (I couldn’t resist- I’m going to have to start inserting that into all my conversations). I don’t know. I’m middle-aged, I haven’t done the things I thought I would do in life- is that a mid-life crisis? Probably. But I have done so much more than I thought I’d ever do. I didn’t set them as goals or review them in my daily planner to make sure I was on track. I lived them. I am living them. I never thought I’d have children- never wanted them. I have two beautiful girls who are truly the light of my life, who with my husband, continue to love me know matter what. They give me purpose to keep going, to keep living. They give me purpose to do the day job to get paid- not for drugs and alcohol anymore (well, mostly not), but to make sure they’re taken care of and have the support to go after their dreams. That is what my life has given me. And I need to cut myself some slack- no, I’m no NY Times Best Selling Author; I don’t have my own Comedy Central Special- but that doesn’t mean I won’t do those things. I just have to keep writing and telling jokes and the rest will take care of itself.
Everyone has their own way of achieving goals and finding what the end will be. Follow your own path- don’t try to achieve things a certain way because someone told you it worked for them. They are not you.
Wow. That’s some pretty heavy shit for not beginning with the end in mind. See, just wander down the path- you’ll find so much more in your life, more joy, more pain, more beauty, more everything than you will if you just stick to a list of goals.