Start With Today

This isn’t exactly what I thought I’d be writing about this week, but, as we’ve seen this year, plans change.

So, right around Tuesday last week, my life-train suddenly derailed.  Not a horrible derailment in the grand scheme of things, but a derailment nonetheless.

I wish I could tell you it happened because of an exciting incident full of pathos and intrigue. But honestly, it was a surprise.  I, mean, I was doing good.  Chugging right along. Cars on the rails. All systems normal.  And then… then… BOOM.  Suddenly I’m in a ditch with my wheels spinning in the air.  Suddenly I’m deep, deep, DEEP into a reading binge that I couldn’t seem to find the will to stop, not sleeping AT ALL, eating like CRAP.

Mistakes were made.

And for the whole week, I accomplished pretty much nothing of any use. Including writing the blog post I thought I’d be writing.

When I finally blinked myself awake on Friday, I found that I’d lost days of my life without anything productive whatsoever to show for them.

I submit to you that I am a walking, talking, poster-chid for how something that is definitely good–reading–can also be the dynamite blowing up any good intentions. I’m not sure why I get obsessive about reading, but if I’m not careful, it can be a catalyst. Or an excuse. Or an escape. Maybe for you it’s shopping, or social media, or binge-watching Netflix, or playing video games.  I guess it doesn’t matter which obsession we choose, the end result is the same–days of our lives missing that we will never get back.

That’s when the regret and guilt come.  So reliable I can set my watch by them.

Generally speaking when I have an incident like the one I had this week, and the regret and guilt come, I respond in one of two ways.  Either I try to escape the consequences, so I go deep down into the rabbit hole again.  Or I try to make up everything I should have been doing all at once so that I can fool myself into believing I’m still on track.  Of course, then the pressure of trying to meet those impossible expectations has me breaking again. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, as per usual, when I blinked my bleary eyes open on Friday morning, my first thought was – “AAAAHHHH!  I’ve wasted so much time!  I have to make it all up!  I have to do it all now! Go, go, go!”

My next thought was, “You idiot! Look at all the time you’ve wasted. Well, you might as well just keep reading.  No point in trying now.”

But then, something that is not usual happened.  Either my brain short-circuited, or I had an epiphany.

I suddenly thought, “You can’t make it all up and you can’t avoid it.  It’s not possible.  That time is gone and putting unrealistic pressure on yourself will not bring it back.  Trying to escape the consequences of your decisions won’t make them go away. You might want to turn back time, but you can’t.

All you can do is start where you are.  Move forward from where you are.  Start with today.  Okay, it’s not Monday now.  It’s not Tuesday, Wednesday or even Thursday.  Forget the goals you had for those days.  Those days are gone.  What were Friday’s goals?  Start with them.”

Huh.  Start from where I am?  Go figure.

Deep breath.

The things I wanted to do during this past week still need to be done.  So they’ll go on the schedule for next week.  But next week I’ll have the experience of the past week to look back on as a warning for where I stepped wrong.  I think I can see where the train went off the rails now, so if I feel that same wobble, I’ll know to beware.

The train will go off the track again, it’s inevitable.  But I can’t go backwards and try to make it all up.  That’s impossible.  We can’t turn back time.  We can’t change the past.  We can’t avoid the present. All we can do is press forward into the future and try to make better decisions next tune.

As you think, you travel; as you love, you attract. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. You cannot escape the result of your thoughts, but you can endure and learn, can accept and be glad.

James Allen

PS – The whole time I was writing this post, I had Cher’s song, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” going through my head. The lyrics don’t exactly fit what I’m talking about here, but, hey.  I see no reason why I should be the only one with an earworm, so, here’s the video.  As a side note, it’s been a while since I’d seen it, so I’d completely forgotten that Cher, at the time a middle-aged mother of two, was dancing around on a ship full of sailors wearing what amounts to boots, stockings, a jacket, and a strategically placed black ribbon.  *bows low in awe*

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