I have a confession. I am obsessed with countdowns and wanting the future to arrive now. It’s unhealthy and silly. I’ve brought up being married to a law student before and the struggles we endure as a couple. I try to stay positive. When Ryan is feeling down I often tell him to slow down and to enjoy the moment. I also tell him that one day we will look back fondly on these long days, weeks, and months as the best days of our lives. However, I regularly do not following my own advice. A lot of the time I desperately yearn for the time when Ryan will be done with law school. When he won’t have 18 hour days. When money and time won’t be as tight. When he won’t be overcome with anxiety and the grumpiness that comes with lack of sleep. When we can start having a family, a house, and the ability to move forward with our lives. I look at this ideal future as the pot of gold at the end the rainbow and sometimes it is all I can think about. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. I’m a live life on the bright side, always be positive, don’t waste your life away hoping for better days, hypocrite.
One of my favorite apps on my iphone is the Countdown+ app. You can plug in how many different dates you want and it keeps a handy countdown for you. Do you know how many more days until Ryan graduates? 610 long days. How often do I check this number? It used to be about twice a week, now it’s daily. As if looking at this number will make it go by faster.
I know it’s ridiculous, I know that once these 610 days pass a stress free life isn’t going to land on my door step wrapped up in a bow. I know that there will always be stress that after graduation there is studying for the bar exam, taking the bar exam, finding a job and all the stress that goes along with those things. I also know that we have a great life. A life that is full of fun activities with friends and family. A life that is full of good health and love. But yet, I countdown the days like some crazy person.
This isn’t anything new. I remember starting countdowns back in college. During a required yet insufferable biology class I would make elaborate calendars in my notes. I would cross off each day as they passed with a satisfying thick X. I wanted to be anywhere else – any of my other english or writing classes, not memorizing useless facts. I was only focusing on the day that this awful class would be over. I would add in special parties and events as milestones to get me through it, hoping to ease the pain of that far away future. Do I need to mention that this was one of the few classes that I did poorly in? (Hmmm wonder why)
Things haven’t changed much since my baby bio days. I have other events in my countdown app, to make the 610 seem more attainable, like concerts, parties, weekend trips, holidays and other fun things. Yes, it’s nice to have things to look forward to, but intently studying how many days you have left will not make that desired day come any faster. Why am I only focussed on that far away date when I do have fun things happening in the present? Why do I put so much pressure on the future? Why do I think I can plan the future? Why do I torment myself so?
I need to stop. I know obsessing over the future is pointless as the future is merely an illusion, it doesn’t exist. Tomorrow is only a concept. All the things I long for for our future are not even guaranteed. At all. Life happens while you’re making other plans and all that jazz.
I need to learn to follow my own advice and live more fully in the present moment rather than in illusion. I need my awareness to be completely centered on the here and now, to simply accept life as the way it is. I’m using this blog as my own therapy today.
Steps I’m going to take to learn to live more in the moment:
1. Be mindful of the present. Realize that with every breath I take, I’m living my life. Decide how to make the most of each of these moments instead of fast forwarding to the next stage. I need to learn to stay more focussed on the task at hand. Whether I’m completing a work project, writing a blog post, running, organizing the house my mind should stay focussed on whatever I’m doing rather than think of the 20 billion other things that need to get done. The only thing keeping me doing the best I can do with my current life is my obsession with skipping ahead to the future and learn to live in the moment.
2. Realize that the future is out of my hands. Of course I know this, I’ve been through enough hiccups in life to know that you can’t control your destiny. Unfortunately, I’m a planner. When I plan, I can prepare myself for what is to come. We all just want to reach the finish line expecting a gold medal. However, preparing and planning are two very different things. I need to learn to mentally prepare myself for a few obstacles that may arrive in the next few years rather than creating a such a detailed plan at how I’d prefer things to go. That is only setting myself up for failure.
3. Live one day at a time. As mentioned above, taking on one challenge at a time should be enough. There is no need to worry about future challenges. I should focus on getting through week by week even rather than look at the calendar and think, “my god, how will we ever make it through the next 610 days?”. I don’t want to feel like I’m always rushing to escape reality. I know how fast time can fly. I can confidently say that in 610 days from now I’ll say “wow, it felt like just yesterday that I was writing the depressed blog post about wanting time to fly by.”
4. Look at this “transition time” as beneficial. Today is where the action is! Today is when I’m living! I need to take these hard times and use them to my advantage as a way to gain clarity and awareness of my life and marriage. Like any other struggle, this will make me stronger and will give me insight into my own spirit.
Truth is, Ryan’s graduation will come and pass like any other day with its own unfolding events. I only hope that by the time that day comes I’m not obsessed with another life stage to fast forward too and another date to countdown to. I want to live my life and I want to live that life in the sunshine.