When I survey my life and realise that I don’t do enough of what I love, I feel something approaching anguish. I read less than I used to. I don’t add to the commons anywhere near often enough. I don’t sit and breathe in the evenings. I don’t walk. I don’t see my friends as regularly as I’d like. I don’t journal frequently. I don’t move as often as I once did. “Only because I don’t have time.” That’s the lie I use to justify all the above. But it doesn’t wash. As my partner says to me every time I sulk about this: “You have enough time. You just don’t use it.” Molly, I doff my hat to you, yet again. You’re right.
I watch videos on YouTube; I have a predilection for vids that involve movement, risk-taking, and craftmanship. I cycle through websites related to whatever my latest obsession is; right now, it’s bikepacking. I binge on tales of what others are doing—usually via social media and blogs—and then get antsy that I’m not doing shit. I browse Reddit, looking, reading, laughing and wondering. I’ll do all this in the afternoon, and then in the evening lament my lack of time.
On some level, I believe my existence isn’t big enough, bold enough, exciting enough, interesting enough. So I try and fail to live through others. Walter Lord captured this sentiment in A Night to Remember: “The public depended on socially prominent people for all the vicarious glamour that enriches drab lives.” I waste my time because I feel that the things I love to do make for a drab life in comparison to the lives I can find online.
As I type this, I realise it’s ridiculous, but so are many of the narratives we live by. Which is the point, I suppose. These are all narratives, stories we tell ourselves, interpretations of reality that we opt to adopt. Which means we can change them. Which means I can change them.
In my question bank, I have the following: “What narrative(s) am I selecting? Should I choose differently?” The answer in this case: I’m selecting a narrative which strips the activities I love of value and meaning, and yes, I should probably select another lens through which to view my life and its components.