There exists a fallacy that a fulfilling life requires extravagant amounts of daily adventuring amongst the Redwood Forests of California followed by short hang-gliding rides to the lake pockets surrounding the volcanoes of Hawaii for quick dips. That a fulfilling life requires scores of decently behaved biologically-related children spitting out more and more genetically-similar offspring, that hopefully return to the old family farm at least once a year, maybe twice if it’s Christmas and the year ends in an even number.
One day you are going to run the Western States 100, heck, you’re going to win it. You won’t even be wearing shoes, pioneering the art of barefoot running all the way to the elite endurance field.
One day you are going to finish that science fiction novel that has been formulating in your mind, featuring the angsty, misunderstood adolescent Warlock skater-boii who just wants to be accepted by Jahja the popular Warlock at school.
One day you–yes you!— are going to power through Winston Churchill’s four-volumed A History of the English Speaking Peoples without so much as a bathroom break.You will reach literary Enlightenment signified by your carefully worded email to the publishing firm announcing your discovery of an incorrect comma usage on page 657 of Volume III.
It tends to go that we put satisfaction and life-fulfillment on hold. The experts tell us that it’s important for us to set goals, right? They even tell us to have ones on standby, so that we never entirely finish a goal without having another one firmly Sharpied on a crisp blank sheet stolen from the local library printer and taped securely on the mirror in front of which you brush your teeth every morning.
But what does this foster? We tend to be left with ultra-inspiring and far-reaching goals that we don’t fully believe ourselves capable of obtaining and that leave us with a sour taste in our mouths for the current state of our lives. How could popping down to Aldis for some fresh, $.29 sale bananas possibly excite us when we are planning on maybe someday moving to Napa Valley wine country and opening a bustling local chicken farm?!
Furthermore, we are being encouraged to “dream bigger” and “reach higher”. The goals we set for ourselves are to be beyond our reach so that in striving for what we want, we somehow grow and change as people?
I have nothing against far-reaching goal setting for self-improvement, I feel as if these kinds of goals are what makes being a human so enjoyable. But I do have a slight issue with ultra-reaching goal setting which is beyond our personal attainment, inhibits our own ability to individualistically contribute to the good of the world and which leave us dissatisfied and disillusioned with our present.
I have found that while goal-setting and future planning allot for blankets of hope for a passion-filled life, the life satisfaction that we all seem to be reaching for is actually obtained by the simple art of living moment to moment.
Living moment to moment is simpler than making the most out of every moment. It’s easier than living today as if it were your last. It’s not as technically challenging as live laugh love. It’s a little bit less vague than just do it.
“Living moment to moment” comes down to this:
Finish what moment you start, every time.
It’s getting closure with the moment you are in, it allows you to catalog that moment under the “done!” portion of your processing system and then move on with your life instead of letting it float in the subconscious jumble that then haunts your dreams at night with images of unfolded laundry and the check that never got sent to the recycling center.
When you wake up in the morning, finish waking up. Get out of bed, turn off the barking dog alarm snooze that you’ve jabbed at three times, make the bed. There, you have finished this moment, you are successfully “awoken”. You have closure with the moment of “waking up”.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I indulge in the mid morning power snoozes after early morning long runs. But by taking 13 minute naps at 9:47 after a delicious breakfast of oatmeal with peanut butter and pomegranate seeds dusted with a conservative layer of agave nectar, I reopen the moment of “waking up”, and I dismiss that closure. I regress to a part of my day that should have already been done. And I teach my subconscious that this is okay, that regression is what brings satisfaction, when in fact it means that I have to start all over again.
When it hits Tuesday, your designated laundry day, do the laundry. Wash it, stick it in the dryer, fold it, put it away. Don’t dally, friends. You opened the washer, you opened the moment. The moment doesn’t end until the laundry is put away. Then you get to file it in the “done” category. Don’t wait until you’re scrambling before work on Wednesday morning to pull out your incomprehensibly wrinkled blouse with the cute, now almost unrecognizable black skirt that always gets a compliment from the cute mailman.
Sometimes I have to be pretty intense with my morning schedule. If I have a shift at the Bakehouse from 9-4, I wake up around 5:53, hit the roads by 6:11, run my 11.5 and if all goes well be back by 7:40. If my goal is to have a nice, relaxing 8:00am hour before my shift, that means I have 20 minutes to close down the moment of my run that started when my own barking-dog alarm sounded at 5:53.
I peel off the moisture-wicking running shirt that has somehow sweat-fused with the first layer of my epidermis and shimmy out of my black running shorts . I grab my towel and wash cloth and get to work removing the layers of me that are just sweat and dirt from the trails. It’s all-too tempting to leave my sweaty running gear in a heap until I come back from work hours later, obviously not thrilled about the idea of molding sweaty odorous running clothes laying on my floor. To place my handheld water bottle, still containing traces of the Skratch Lab Pineapple mix that I drank partially on my run, on the counter by the dishes and hope that my mother goes ahead and does the work for me.
But if I give in to this temptation than I’m not closing the moment. So instead, I go and rinse out my clothes under the cold bath faucet, wring them out and lay them to dry, tuck away Ann my Trusty Trail Shoes back into the perch where she spends her days, log my miles and pace and times in my Running Diary, throw away the sucked-down GU gel packet, and rinse and drain my Ultimate Direction handheld running bottle. This thereby seals the moment, I file Daily run! Yay! under the “completed” section of my brain, and I don’t waste precious amounts of the remainder of my day revisiting it.
I have lived this moment to it’s finality and this finality brings me satisfaction.
So dreams and hopes and aspirations and desires for what our lives could be and the goals that we set for ourselves in order to reach those…that stuff is important. It’s important to pump your mind up with hopes of someday maintaining this awesome dream life.
But for the mean time, seek out the satisfaction that comes with living in the present and closing down every moment that you start. Don’t let things dangle; that then commits you to something that could have already been done. When you start things without finishing them they still have a hold over you. They still have you committed.
Ain’t nobody got time to be committed to the laundry.
Peace and Blessings,