When I consider the legion pursuits to which I have given my time, only a few are worthy of my best energy.
The trivial many versus the vital few.
I stumble around like a blind fool giving myself to mindless, cheap, meaningless drivel that doesn’t mean shit when it’s all said and done. This behavior could be summed up as the trivial many — the endless gush of time spent doing things that matter not at all, or, at best, matter very little. I’m not even speaking of destructive behavior. I’m talking about the useless spinning day in and day out that, when totaled, comes to almost nothing.
It’s the time suck of my phone as my forefinger flicks through the endless stream of intoxicating firewater gushing from that damned device. It’s the distractions as my brain stops mid-project to focus on another project, only to get distracted by yet another project. Each seems urgent at the moment. None ends up being urgent enough to complete, to take top rung on my hierarchy of important things.
The phone rings. A new email dings. A text appears. My focus disappears.
I generally lack the courage required for me to say no to a person who needs my attention and my time. I don’t like saying no to people. I don’t like letting them down, and I worry what they may think of me. But I’ve heard that in order to say yes to one thing, you have to say no to a lot of others. Focus can be defined as the ability to block out distractions.
“Maybe tomorrow” is the song the fool sings today. But hey, garbage in garbage out as they say. I have tested this premise and found it sterling. Some of my best work? Not really.
Someone once said wide and easy is the path to destruction, and many travel on it. They stomp the pedal down and speed gleefully on their merry path, eating and drinking all the while. They float and drift toward who knows what, for who knows why, at a cost that no one can calculate. I’m guilty of it too. A tithe of the time I’ve spent on useless social media video garbage could have been used to build a small stone cathedral.
The lack of motivation to finish a project has plagued me all my life and probably cost me at least a million bucks. I was never good at math though, especially when the solution of the problem equals “get off your ass.”
I think this besetting habit or inability may be due in part to a vision issue. More specifically, a lack of vision. If I have a hard time seeing the truth of my ultimate destination — connecting the dots from where I am today with where I will be some day — I have a hard time getting motivated. A vision MUST be motivating or compelling. It needs a few simple statements — bullet points really — that describe the great place I hope to inhabit someday. But those points must be clear. They must be enticing. They must be both dream-able and doable. They must charm and inspire.
My vision statement must paint a picture of a place that is far better than the place I currently inhabit. Otherwise, there is no logical reason for enduring the pain of changing my current situation.
If it isn’t a rally cry, it’s not a good vision.
Lately I’ve been counting on my fingers my good ideas and worthy endeavors in which I have invested my time and energy. They all have names and faces. The best things in my life, the things I have worked the hardest for and will always be the most proud of are people. It is my wife and the life I live with her. It is my children and their children. It is my business, my clients, my coworkers. It is my community.
The water that flows under life’s bridge will never come back in an age of ages. I am running out of time, and the vision I have is for my people. It’s worth accomplishing. It’s worth focusing on. It’s worth all of the no’s that must be said in order to gain the singular yes.
I gaze into the Mirror of Galadriel and say, “wake up you fool.”
I have squandered entire seasons on tinfoil trash-fast food-sugar water-fluorescent bubble gum bits of near-beer. I know it. I see it. But I can’t seem to work up the energy to change. I’m too comfortable in the sleepy warmth of “how it’s always been” to do anything about it. The pain of mediocrity is no pain at all except for the bite that comes at the end of my journey. But that won’t come for a while, so back to sleep I go.
That is my rally cry.
© 2023 Mark Whitmore
Image: Lothlorien by Tessa Boronski