It’s 5:28 a.m., Tuesday morning. This is a little early for me, especially considering that I’ve been awake for about 45 minutes and just now decided that I am “up;” my day has begun. It’s time to put on some coffee (no cigarette – it’s been over three weeks without one now!) and get down to the business of the day. It’ll top 70 degrees today and there is no rain forecasted for a few days at least – I have a feature story due in a week, two research papers due in two weeks and finals coming up directly after that. Life is good! Oh yea, I’ve got to get the Harley tuned up too.
Life, my life at least, has this ebb and flow to it. It always has. It certainly isn’t the rollercoaster it once was. It used to be more like a cycle of boom and bust. That things are about to get somewhat hectic for me is better viewed through the filter of the past – my past. Everything is relative and compared to the way things were once upon a time, this is a far more manageable “busy season” than I am accustomed to. And although putting this all into perspective helps immeasurably, that is only part of the story.
Despite the fact that I’ll be extremely busy for the next month or so, it is not haphazardly so. This is all planned; it has been, in detail, since January and generally well before that. I signed up for this, there are no major surprises. Sure, the unexpected has occurred in the recent past and I suspect it will rear its head again, but I have the major stuff squared away. Although there is much in front of me, I have positioned myself to be successful. This is not rocket science – it is really quite simple.
All the same, in a way this “seasonal rush” if you will, caught me a little by surprise. Not off-guard, but in a strange way it kind of snuck up on me. A key change in my everyday life is that I live it as an “everyday” life. That is, I take one day at a time, deal with what is directly in front of me and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. The obvious question is “how is it that I am so ready, so prepared for this next month if I haven’t been worrying about it?” That’s an excellent question and one that deserves an excellent answer. Here goes…
As I stated, the upcoming 30 days or so will be busy. In fact, if I had to do it all today, or tomorrow or even within the next week, it would be overwhelming. I would throw up my hands and say “f*** it!” So how is it that I can live a day at a time and be in sync with a busy month? Easy. Although I have made plans and I obviously have goals, the path to attaining them is just that – a path. I’ll not realize them in one giant step or leap. Indeed, instant gratification only lasts an instant and if I want lasting satisfaction, time is among the primary ingredients to a successful recipe.
Therefore, today I will not do all those things that I have to do in the next four weeks. I can’t. I can, however, call contacts, do research, write… and go to class. In other words, I have a list of things to do today that will bring me to tomorrow. In addition, the things I have on my “to do” list are not just a means to an end – graduation and a degree – but an end in and of themselves. That way I get to have my cake and eat it too. My tasks today are not merely a chore to get the brass ring; they pay dividends all day long. Perhaps this is not instant gratification, but it surely must be at least incremental gratification!
In the final analysis, it is not only possible, but preferable (and for me, required) to have long-term goals and a view of life that revolves around 24 hour segments. If I have my sights set on the end, I tend to be so single minded that I’ll miss all there is along the way. I will not take time to “stop and smell the roses.” Taking life a day at a time gives me the short-term payoff while working toward a long-term goal and a perspective that allows me get excited about every step of the journey. And isn’t that what makes it all worthwhile?