I spent years on the road not worrying about anyone else’s schedule at all: I slept when I wanted, woke up when I wanted, stayed in one place or moved on, and so on. There were hardships, sure; you can never predict what will happen on the road. I’d spend hours trying to hitch a ride in bad weather, or waiting at border crossings, or searching for a suitable little space whereon to spread out my sleeping bag. But generally what I did and where I did it was my decision and mine alone.
There was a time for that. However, since then I have made major life-changing decisions and no longer can afford to live in such a selfish, hedonistic manner. For one thing, I got married. As soon as you commit yourself to another person the whole equation changes. And then, we started having kids. It’s not possible to understand the total responsibility of children unless you are in the position yourself. Your life is not your own, in a sense – though in another sense it still is, as you made the major decisions and commitments necessary to put yourself into that situation.
But what I wanted to bring out is that because of those commitments I can’t do whatever I want anymore. Actually, in a strict sense, I can do very little of what I want, or what I would choose to do were I on my own.
For one thing, I would spend a lot more time writing, and studying about writing, and marketing my stories, and so on. I would read more and watch more films. I would definitely travel much more than I am able to do now.
However, I can’t. So what do I do? I used to live for the times when I could do the activities I enjoyed, and wished that the things I did as a matter of obligation would be over as soon as possible.
But… I’m not getting any younger, and I have begun to realize that the times I spend doing things I would not choose to do, such as my teaching job, household chores, exercise, business obligations, and so on, is time that I can never get back. And if my only attitude while doing these things is to get them over with as quickly as I can, then I get no benefit from the experience.
So I have begun to try to enjoy those things I previously derived no enjoyment from. It reminds me of the old Stephen Stills song, “If You Can’t Be with the One You Love, Love the One You’re With”. I’ve tried to do that with these sometimes unsavory tasks, and… You know what? It works.
It takes time, though. You don’t make the decision and then instantly enjoy washing the dishes or taking out the trash or going to your job. But once the attitude shift has been initiated, if you are faithful to keep reminding yourself, the change will come.
It’s so much more fun to enjoy everything you do instead of only your primary activity.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the writing first and I don’t think that will ever change. But life is short, and I’m going to savor as much of it as I can while I have it. Even the unsavory parts.