Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to theatrically sing along with the radio. I pretty much knew the words to almost every pop song from my youth, but some of them just really moved me. Despite being a young child with relatively few life experiences, I intuitively connected with the emotions underlying the songs. I sang along with these songs passionately and sincerely, like they were my own. I often gave spirited performances for my family and friends. I’m thankful now that this was before the proliferation of smartphones and digital cameras (although it would be kinda cool to watch Kindergarten Me performing Wilson Phillips).
I had this strange rule, though. If I happened to catch my favorite song on the radio, after it was already 30 seconds or more into the song, I lost interest. I would venture to say it even made me mad. It was like I could only allow myself to really enjoy the song if I knew I could enjoy the whole thing in its entirety. Which makes no sense because it was the exact same song that I absolutely loved.
I had an analogous feeling today. Looking at my calendar, I thought, “I can’t wait for next year.” Why did I say these words? To be honest, this year has presented a lot of challenges for me. I wanted a fresh start, a chance to refocus on my goals and plan big with the entire year ahead of me, a blank canvas. After hearing myself speak this thought, I immediately sensed the irrationality behind it. We have just entered into the month of September, which still leaves four more months, 16 shining weeks, of potential to explore!
I was ascribing some kind of profound significance to the date on the calendar, in the same way I used to do with the beginning of my favorite songs on the radio. It is as though I could only allow myself to think big about my goals, and enjoy the thrill of ambition, at the beginning of a new year. I found further inspiration and validation to reset when I contemplated the reality of my essence as an organic living being. This means that every single cell in my body (skin cells, blood cells, and everything that I'm made of) is going through a constant cycle of dying, shedding, and being replaced with something new. Why should I have to wait for a specific date on the calendar to hit the psychological reset button?
There is an old Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” While it’s true that I could have started earlier, planting the seeds for all that I want to accomplish and grow, some of my seeds were left out. There will always be more seeds I will wish I planted 20 years ago. There is often good reason for this. I didn't know then (January 1, 2016) what I know now. I am a dynamic living organism. Inevitably, my perspectives, intentions, abilities, and priorities are constantly evolving. With this realization, I consciously choose to focus on taking actionable steps towards accomplishing something now, today, that will allow me to flourish in the near future.
You can try this. Examine the items on your “abstract existential shortcomings” list and translate them into a “more concrete and immediate doable things" list. What are some small, attainable steps you can take to make some progress towards your aspirations? Pick at least one thing you can do TODAY to get you closer. Revisit and update this list often.
Maybe you had to get a later start than you would have wanted, but the good news is that you still have the opportunity to sing aloud to the song of your life. And you ought to sing it loudly, with gusto, no matter how much time you think you have left.