Sometimes, you gotta be selfish. Sometimes, you gotta make a list of things you’ve been putting off (or avoiding) and stop worrying about the every-day commitments you’ve made, and the things you’ve defined as important (job, family, eating, sleeping, etc), and knock a few of the outstanding to-do items off your t0-do list.
Like, this morning, I decided to organize my video files from my 2012 family vacation (been putting this off since last August, fyi) and finally burn them to DVD. I had big plans to edit them perfectly and get rid of the garbage footage (you know that footage …where you accidentally left the camera running and laid the camera down and it shot nothing but the ceiling for 20-minutes and the audio was nothing more than you saying the word ‘strawberry’ over and over again because for some reason, at that moment, the word ‘strawberry’ sounded like gibberish and, hey, you were on vacation, and nobody was around, so you just kept saying ‘strawberry’). I was going to expertly combine my Sony Handycam footage and my iPhone footage, and my wife’s iPhone footage …and her digital camera stills and video …it was going to be the ultimate DVD experience of my vacation. There was going to be music …Carly Rae Jepson’s “It’s Always a Good Time” playing under a series of pictures, to be exact.
That never happened. And while I don’t sit and dwell on it day after day, somewhere in my subconscious, the fact I haven’t done this is there. Tormenting me. Telling me, “you’re a failure, Don. I’m just another thing on your list of ‘big ideas’ that you didn’t do and I’m dragging you down.”
Do you have a list like this? My guess is, you do. And how many things are on that list? For me, the list is too long. Some of the things on it include…
(a) call your cousin Jim (seems simple enough, right?)
(b) edit/create your Maui vacation DVD
(c) write that screenplay – seriously, it’s the next Groundhog Day
(d) write those easy MSU Alumni blog entries …NOW!
(e) start that sales book, which you can write simply from blogging every day
Oh, and the list goes on. Trust me.
Now, I’m not saying you can do everything you want to in a lifetime, but when I think back on the things I’ve done that happened in bursts of inspiration, I kinda amaze myself. Like, did I really try stand-up comedy for 6-months? And, did I really take an improv class and did our troop perform live a few times? Did I really star in a musical or two? Did I really write a book and help contribute 1/2 of another book? Did I really marry the girl I had a crush on since the day I met her in 10th grade? Did I really say those things at those weddings and funerals and nobody told me I didn’t make any sense or that my voice was annoying? Do I really have all these people as friends? They don’t hate me? Really? Did I really complete 3 triathlons? Did I really run a half-marathon once?
My point is, yes, I did all those things. And because I did all those things, I’m happier, today.
I’m not a famous comedian. I’m not a highly-regarded public speaker. I’ve never set any records with my triathlon times. My wife and I don’t appear on the cover of US Weekly or People, nor has Oprah interviewed us about how perfect a loving relationship can be.
But ya know what? That’s OK. I don’t think I did all that stuff for fortune and fame. I did it because it was something to do and I had dreamed of doing it. I don’t wonder what my life would be like if I had only had the courage to ask her out on a date. I don’t wonder if I could’ve been a great stand-up comedian.
Those are “big things” …but for me, burning my vacation footage to DVD is still an accomplishment.
Sometimes on rainy days when we’re stuck inside, my kids ask me to play some of my old DVDs that have footage from when they were babies. Here again, I wanted the video footage I took of them to be something along the lines of Citizen Kane meets The Wonder Years and ideally I’d want the crappy footage edited out, and each DVD to have titles and the chapters on those DVDs to be titled, and I’d want narration, and …
That was never going to happen. However, on those rainy days, when we’re watching some jumpy, poorly lit footage of my wife and I giving our oldest daughter her first bath, or I’m looking back at footage of my, then, 3 and 2 year old dancing to The Wiggles while my very-pregnant wife looks on in the background, it doesn’t matter. We love every minute of it and all the memories it brings back.
So today, and this week as I march towards my 40th birthday, and for the rest of this year and the rest of my life, I’m going to do things as best as I can do them in that moment, knowing days, weeks, months, or years from now, they’ll be perfect …for me.