Let me describe a typical deadline-day to you. It goes like this: switch on computer. Open Word. Quickly check email. Go back to Word. Read what you’d written yesterday before saving and closing. It’s only three sentences so it doesn’t take very long. Quickly check twitter. Thirty-nine minutes later you realise you better get back to Word. You stare at it for a long time. It’s not bad. It should be better. You feel your eyes glaze over. What’s in the fridge? I like these undies – they’re comfy. Okay let me try some pinspiration. Open Pinterest. Nice things. Nice homes. Nice travel. Nice boys. Nice bodies. Nice funnies. Nice destinations.
Enough inspiration to get back to Word yet? Nope. Nada.
Deadlines are funny things – especially ones we impose on ourselves. They are always about external conditions. The day you are going to start that diet, when you will go back to gym, how long you will do this detox for or how many days it is that you won’t be consuming alcohol. Rather than the sentiment of what it is we are doing – or why we have decided to do it – we peg it to timelines and talk about them to anyone who will listen, right? Right.
Dale Carnegie said that happiness doesn’t depend on external conditions but that it is governed by our mental attitude. No. I didn’t know who he was either but I do like what he said. In this time of resolutions, queuing for the treadmill, purging the fridge of all temptation and pulling your creased yoga matt out from under everything else in your wardrobe, isn’t it more about what’s happening upstairs rather than the ones you’re promising to climb?
So? What is happening upstairs? The thing about an idle mind is that it’s never really idle. It’s usually a symptom of some real thinking you are probably avoiding. Too much of the he-said-she-saids and not enough of the this-and-that of how you really feel about this-and-that. Then… suddenly! Excellent! Say Yes to the Dress is on TLC. Orange faces. Sweet girls. Nasty girls. Irritated by bitchy girls pushing over nice girls. Poor mothers of poor girls. Rich mothers of poor girls. Boys who wish they were girls so that they could also say yes to the dress. Gaaaad! Don’t these people ever work? Ooh! Must get back to work.
So you go back to Word. Back to this loose document that is still way too much a work in progress. It has a few stable sentiments in place and some other italicized pointers, one or two thought-provokers and a lot of empty space; it’s as if you’ve barely looked at it at all. But isn’t that sometimes the best place to start? Whoever said that you couldn’t edit a blank page never knew the power of the invitation to throw paint onto it. There’s a lot to be said about the opportunity of an empty space – however and wherever yours exists.
So it’s January. So you have a few failed promises, are carrying some extra kilos and own some unmet deadlines – so what? Thinking about making plans is still thinking and it’s still planning. If it’s not according to your schedule, nothing needs to be rushed! As long as you’re still thinking. And be kind to yourself because the pendulum can be both torturous and tactful, condescending or courteous. You’ll have days where you think who the hell am I and what is it I’m doing with my life? And then you’ll have days where an unsuspecting moment sneaks up on you as you catch yourself in the mirror and you say: ah, there you are. Living. You’re all good.
And it is. It’s all good. You’re all good.
Whatever you do with all your thinking, underthinking and overthinking, don’t put yourself on too much of a deadline. Teach yourself new ways to dream and give yourself permission to embrace being uniquely you – with all those mistakes and determinations that you experience daily. Goals? Yes. Timelines? Sure. But a deadline on discovering who you are and where you ought to be when some roster says so?
Life doesn’t have to work like that.
© Dylan Balkind