Things I Would Rather Be Doing Right Now
Time is precious. Perhaps an earlier version of me, one from before my cancer diagnosis, would have been content to lose a handful of productive days to “busy work” and the doldrums of handling the minutia of various household responsibilities that mostly involve endless telephone calls and repeating myself over and over. But this current version of me, the one who wasn’t expected to still be alive right now, he gets a little frustrated when he is saddled with these endless daily chores and the feeling of being prisoner to situations that hold no meaning.
When life’s duties get in the way of real life
This past week or so, I’ve had to deal with my Internet connection acting all screwy, my satellite television service not working, the remnants of construction in our kitchen after a minor water leak, scheduling some minor plumbing maintenance, organizing bills, collecting paperwork for an insurance claim, setting up shifting appointments on my calendar, trying to figure out when I will have time for grocery shopping and mowing the lawn, and the one enjoyable task of driving my daughter to and from camp each day. This has been my “good” period between infusions, after the first week where I feel crummy and tired; I should be at my peak for creativity and productivity. My energy levels have been quite high, and I have no shortage of projects on my desk that need my full attention. And yet, as if the Universe wanted to have a good laugh at my expense, the dominos all began to neatly fall each upon the next. Where I began this period thinking I was going to cross off huge sections of my grand to-do list, I have, instead, spent egregiously long periods on my cell phone, on hold.
Aside from the comically absurd repetition involved with customer service issues that were supposedly resolved but still require third, fourth, or even fifth calls, there is little amusing about how a seemingly simple problem can account for an entire lost afternoon. But rather than merely get frustrated about the time-sucking nature of dancing through phone prompts until finally reaching an operator who has to run through a twenty-minute script before transferring the call to what will ultimately be the first of at least three other departments (all of which requiring the same initial twenty-minute script), I found that it was a useful exercise to think beyond my to-do list and reframe my idea of what the week could have been.
Because this is what I realized: as lucky as I am to still be alive, I’ve forgotten, at least to some degree, how foreshortened my life might actually be. I’ve become complacent. Life-as-usual, the silly little burdens of society, had sucked me back in with their petty distractions of comforting, placid normalcy. Lulled into this routine, I had forgotten that there were things I would rather be doing.
Maybe it takes the process of talking to fifteen different people over the course of two days to get a fifty dollar service credit, just to get that realization about how much time is being wasted. Maybe it takes that 45-minute online chat to “resolve” a billing problem that has supposedly been resolved five times already over the past four months, just for the reminder that pointless exercises lead nowhere but still drain energy. Maybe, in my case, I’ve just been in need of a bracing slap across the face, something to wake me up.
Because there are things I would rather be doing right now
And I’m not talking about those grand bucket list items, the spontaneous trip to Thailand or climbing a mountain or sailing a boat in the America’s Cup. I mean getting outside and taking care of my vegetable garden, working on the novel I want to complete or writing some poetry for a change, cooking something new and delicious, playing a game with my family.
I would rather be doing something that brings me joy, no matter how simple. And that is what I should be doing. Sure, this other stuff can all be necessary sometimes. It’s part of life if we choose to embrace those things that bring such trappings, and that is okay; we just need to keep perspective about it all. I would not trade my domestic responsibilities because they bring with them the satisfaction of being a husband and father, but then I need the balance of taking my wife and daughter on a hike or out for a day trip.
And sometimes, I just need to pause and look at the beauty around me. Come to think of it, that’s an easy one to do, even when I’m stuck on hold.