Another Forty Days, Day 37–No Right Time

Whenever you’re ready,
I’ve got the car and the engine running
Such a bore when you know what’s coming all the time.
Whenever you’re ready, to slam the door ’til the hinges fly
Trace an arc across the big blue sky,
It’s always gonna be hard, to take things a little too far…

“Whenever you’re ready
To light a match and to burn some bridges,
Try to dance on a narrow ledge that’s way too high
Whenever you’re ready
To give it up or to just give in
The more you lose, hell, the more you win
In spite of all of your plans, it’s always been out of your hands.”

~Mary Chapin Carpenter

This morning I asked myself a question: why do we wait? Why do we linger in unhealthy relationships, go to work everyday at unfulfilling, spirit-murdering jobs, rush through our days to get to the next thing without ever considering what the next thing is? For most of the choices we make there usually consequences, and sometimes benefits. There’s something that keeps us doing what we’re doing (whether it’s working or serving us or not) or not doing what we could be doing, to make the change our spirits are calling for. Perhaps part of the answer is found in this lyric from “The Wiz” soundtrack.

“There’s a feeling here inside
That I cannot hide
And I know I’ve tried
But it’s turning me around
I’m not sure that I’m aware
If I’m up or down
Or here or there
I need both feet on the ground
Why do I feel like I’m drowning?
When there is plenty of air.
Why do I feel like frowning?
I think the feeling is fear.”

~ Dorothy from “The Wiz”

Ah, fear. Fear has kept me immobilized from taking many actions, making many decisions that I was being called on to make, the vast majority of which were directly connected to those things I needed to do for myself, to enhance my personal situation and/or strengthen my overall sense of wellbeing. Time after time, the decisions I’ve made and the actions I’ve taken had led me in the very opposite direction from what I needed to do, where I needed to go. And all of my reasons for not doing what I didn’t do and for doing what I did largely have their bases in fear, disguised as “common sense.” See if any of these sound familiar:

  • “I can’t do that (quit my job in a highly toxic environment), I have people who depend on me.”
  • “I can’t leave him (choosing to remain in a mentally abusive relationship), he doesn’t mean what he says, it’s just because he’s so stressed.”
  • “I’d better accept this job even though they’re offering me a lower salary than I should be earning. I need the job.”
  • “I’d better not saying anything about that (not “blowing the whistle” on unethical or illegal behavior), I don’t want to get into trouble.”
  • “I’m not going to submit that manuscript to a publisher, it’s not good enough.”
  • “_______________________.” You fill in the blank.

I actually could include my own long list of things, but above are a few examples. Look through your own life, there are plenty of items you could probably add to the list. But the list is no longer important. What is important is what you are–what I am–willing to do today. What kind of decision can I make, what small baby steps can I take that move me closer to a life of wild joy?

The other day I posed a question to my significant other, and then asked a couple of other people: Can you age out of your dreams? In other words, when does the time come when we’re too old to do those things we longed to do when we were younger, before the realities an challenges of life took their toll on us? Will I ever be an olympic, world class athlete? No. Can I still finish the novel I’ve been writing for my entire life (in one form or another)? Absolutely. Can I quit my job and travel around the world? Most likely, with a little planning and a lot of pluck. Will I ever own and manage my farm, retreat center? Will I do so many things that would have been so much easier for a 40-year old versus a nearly 60-year old? Hard to say. The point is this: there is no “right” time, no good, convenient, perfect, auspicious, (insert additional adjectives here ______) time for us to make a move. So, as I asked at the beginning of this post: why do we wait? Perhaps it’s time to stop waiting.

What does any of this have to do with Lent, with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Not much, except that as long as we walk this earth, what would Jesus have us do to bring more love, compassion, peace, and joy into the world? Perhaps we begin by first inviting those things into our own lives and spreading it outward from there. I want to pose the question that Mary Oliver asks at the end of her poem, The Summer Day:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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