I sat around last night envisioning myself on death’s door. What? Oh, sure, like I’m the only one who plays out morbid scenarios in their mind occasionally. Every once in a while, my subconscious shouts “hey, we’re gonna die someday. Wonder how that’ll play out?” and, being the overly creative fellow that I am, I oblige my psyche by fleshing out the grisly details. Did you know that Anthony Burgess, the author of “A Clockwork Orange”, was once diagnosed with terminal cancer and wrote 5 books in ONE YEAR so that his wife would have some kind of money after he kicked off. (As an aside, he got better from the terminal cancer). With that story for source material, and my ongoing unhappiness with my own work ethic, my imagination took off.
Last night’s mortality scenario included a prolonged stay in a hospital room where I was feverishly churning out new writing in a race against the clock. The small sense of pride that came from the idea of working hard in the face of death was an awkward sensation. Have to find the upside to everything,
But then I paused my daydream to give myself a reality check. Maybe, I’d be a little bit happier in the here and now if I put a little more effort into working while I wasn’t on my deathbed. To use an automotive metaphor, I am a car in 1st gear trying to go up a hill. Other cars are passing me because they are working harder. I’m content to putter up the hill because the road isn’t collapsing behind me, and the light at the top of the hill is going to stay green forever. But it’s not.
I know, I know, “time is short” is not a revelatory statement. You have to make do with what you have and get your priorities straight. That’s where my troubles lie. I’m wired to prioritize pleasure and comfort instead of meaningful work. Something from a long time ago, probably during childhood, convinced me that happiness and nice things are going to disappear, so I gorge on them. I eat every meal like a fatter, hungrier man is on his way to eat my food. I hate to pause a video game and leave the room for fear of it vanishing before I return.
So that’s where the scarcity confusion is, and where I need to put in some work. No one is coming to take my happiness away. There will be plenty of time for fun, I promise, but there are books to write first.(and laundry and dishes and vacuuming and volunteering).