If you are a writer who actually makes your living with your words, and that was exactly what you wanted to do with your life, I am very happy for you. I’m also thankful that you’re around, because you inspire me, show me proof that it can be done, and possibly give me some damn fine reading material.
But let’s be honest. I’m also jealous of you, in the same way the teenage girl in the hand-me-down clothes hates her best friend for just the briefest moment when she shows up to school in her new Hollister hoodie (or whatever the trendy expensive teenage girl thing is THIS month).
The news this week has been all apocolypse, all the time. It seems no one, including me, really believes it, but this old dude and his followers going on and on about the rapture does make for good TV. And believe it or not, it also makes me think.
On Thursday, I sat in my office all day auditing computer stuff. There are many things I never wanted to be in life. A proctologist. Anyone whose job involves touching other people’s feet. An auditor. Thankfully, auditing isn’t a constant part of my job. This is just a special project, and while I whine about it I’d still rather audit records than examine someone else’s toe fungus, so things could be worse.
Even so, I couldn’t help but think, as I sat there on the verge of a boredom coma in my office on a pretty spring day, about the Doomsday that was supposed to be today. I realized with a startling intensity that if I really thought the world would end in two days, I would so NOT be doing what I was doing at that moment.
If truth be told, I can say that about my work most of the time. So of course, that led me down that whole “shouldn’t you live EVERY day like it is your last” road. That’s a nice thought, but realistically, it just isn’t something we can all do all the time. The bills have to be paid, and we don’t all get to be rock stars or famous writers or astronauts or whatever it was we wanted to be.
I’ve been in a bit of a questioning phase about what I’m doing lately. Working all day and cramming as much writing or writing-related activity as possible into my free time. I love the writing part, and wouldn’t change it for anything. Yet, sometimes I get incredibly sick of sitting at a computer with bleary eyes and cramped muscles. That’s what I do at work, too, when I’m not in meetings. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if all this pressure I”m putting on myself is making me miss a lot of good living, when the workweek already makes me miss so much.
So I’m glad I had those what-if-it-was-really-the-end thoughts, in that not-believing-it kind of way. They reminded me why I do what I do. I’m doing this to inch closer to having that life, to maybe actually being one of those writers who earns their keep with their words. To inspire myself the way those writers inspire me, without having the kid in the hand-me-down-clothes flashes of jealousy.
It is worth it, and I’m going to keep on keeping on. But I’m also going to try to strike a little more balance in my life, to spend more time really being in precious moments, rather than just existing in them while I think about my next story or what I have to get done at work by the end of the day. To exercise more, to stretch, to laugh, to see new things. To rest and just be now and then.
This Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, a perfect day here in Baltimore. The world didn’t end, just as I knew it wouldn’t. A normal Saturday morning will find me pecking away at the computer, getting in a good long stretch of writing time. The original plan for this Saturday, though, was to head out shopping in search of some much-needed summer workwear. Because yeah, in spite of what that old rapture man says, Monday is coming back.
But then I stepped out into my yard, and saw the blue skies and the fluffy clouds and the leaves on my trees dancing and dipping in a gentle breeze. I wanted nothing more than to be just like them.
So that’s what I did. Just for today, I said shit on the work clothes, shit on the cleaning, and yes, even shit on the writing. I have spent almost the entire day in my hammock instead. Sometimes, I am immersed in “House Rules,” a Jodi Picoult novel I’ve been meaning to get to forever. Sometimes, I am napping. Sometimes, I am staring up at the treetops and those fluffy clouds.
But I am always swaying just a little, suspended in midair, rocking gently.
Rockin’ the Apocolypse.
I’m glad Rapture Man is just a little off his rocker, and that I’ll have plenty of time to do this again. But I’m also glad he’s been making such a fuss, and getting me to think a little.
Hope you’re rocking your Doomsday too, whatever that means for you.