Author C.S. Lewis said, “The great thing if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is, of course, what one refers to as the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.” There’s more to Lewis’s intent here, but he is essentially referring to the ways we sometimes watch life fly by while worrying about all the things that supposedly interrupt it.
Not everything that interrupts life is unpleasant, however. Many of what we would call interruptions tend to be what we use as excuses for things we put off or never do at all, whatever the reason.
Everyone has things we say we are going to do, someday. That trip you still haven’t taken, the home project you never quite got back to, or a visit with old friends or family you haven’t seen for a while. Everything’s always later, tomorrow, or next year. But, for some reason, you just never seem to get there and the next thing you know, it’s too late.
The excuses for why we never accomplish that list of “laters” may vary but include phrases like, “life happens,” or “life gets in the way.” But does it? The fact is life doesn’t just happen in time to interrupt your unrealized dreams. Believe it or not, it’s going on all around you, every day, every minute, continually advancing and devouring your time like PacMan scooting through the maze of life munching on ghosts. Sadly, most of the time, you’re the one who gets in the way.
It might be hard to accept, but we, each one of us, are responsible for most of the obstacles to our own happiness. We make excuses, take detours, and get in our own way, doing, even subconsciously or unknowingly, whatever we can to keep us from our goal. It’s not clear why we practice this unconscious self-sabotage, but it’s pretty common, and it takes a lot of self-awareness to overcome it.
Remember that blaming life or anything else just allows more excuses. Life doesn’t really get in the way at all but, instead, it is the way. Unfortunately, most people are so worried about what they’re not doing they forget to notice. We forget to live and never toward everything that we later say got interrupted by life. I’ve written many times about appreciating life’s moments, but what I’m talking about here is life as a whole.
See, once it’s done, it’s done. If there’s something you want to do, you have just to do it. Drop the excuses, build a plan, and make it happen, interruptions be damned. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not. It takes work, commitment, and determination.
It’s true some things may be out of reach financially, or something like taking time off from work to hike through Italy for a month could be a little unrealistic. But this isn’t just about a visit to the Grand Canyon or buying that big new thing that’ll be replaced by another big new thing 20 minutes after you swipe your credit card. Our goal here is to identify what really matters to you and live those things now, so you don’t regret it later.
As old age creeps up on us just the way a race car on the track doesn’t, our perspectives shift quite a lot. I doubt anyone waits for the final curtain of life’s performance wishing they’d bought that new car or played the most popular video game of the time. No, what makes life worth the effort are people and time with friends and family – chosen or by blood.
One of the most overused excuses isn’t some interruption in our daily routine, but time itself. The irony is that time is finite, we only have so much, and we often exhaust a great deal of it claiming we didn’t have enough in the first place.
Time is the one thing in life that is completely under our control since we can choose how we use it. So, if we want to really live, we need to ignore the interruptions and stop making excuses so we can better use what little we have.
Gery Deer is a Greene County resident and columnist. He can be reached at www.gldcommunications.com.