Most of us are looking for a way to grow, get better…get off of the couch. We invest in spiffy new gadgets to measure our progress, coaches to inspire and hold us accountable, books and classes to learn from and all sorts of helpful hardware to ensure success. But anyone who has ever committed to drop a few pounds will attest, there is no easy way – no if: then equation – to move to the goal. Ultimately, we have to get off the couch and begin. Life does not swing around when we meet our goals or the unicorn taps its horn on our forehead. Life is now in the mess and what seems to be the perpetual middle.
Traveling by bus can teach a lot about humans and life. Unrelated people randomly congregate around a pole, shelter or queue with expectation. Some mindfully invest themselves in their temporary situation and others settle into the distractions at hand. Few connect with their traveling companions.
They all wait until the bus pulls up. Some shuffle forward and get on the bus to their next staging ground. Others will learn that this is not their bus or there is no bus (yet) to take them where they want to go. Each invests their precious lives into however they occupy their time and attention while waiting for what they want and need – in this case, a bus.
Too easily overlooked is that the bus they wait for is not the entry point to life, it is a vehicle within the life they are already living. The notion of “if the bus gets here, then I will proceed with my life” is false.
We are living as we wait. What seems like the middling time is really all we have: the beginning, middle and end of whatever story the moment is telling.
I know this is “deep thoughts with Jack Handy-ish,” but bear with me.
A few days ago, I held a wee baby while its family swirled around him. A birthday was celebrated. Three generations wove in and out of the conversation. Photographs and stories of long gone ancestors filled the room.
I looked at these photographs and listened to the stories. Fresh faces framed by decades-old hairstyles. Stories of family immigrating, joining others or rooting into the southern red clay. A toddler in hues of blue wearing cake for a while.
The baby in my arms will be old one day.
We will be memories…if we’re lucky and wise.
Life is so unknown.
Driving home from that gathering had me feeling ill-at-ease as if I’d finally caught a greater glimpse of how short time can be. What bus am I waiting for? What “if” marks the end of the waiting and the beginning of “then” as in “if I get this job, then I’ll be on my way” or “if I can get my masters than I’ll be launched for life.”
We are already on our way. We’ve already launched.
Our lives are in motion even as we wait.
We have the power to take one step and then another
to reach out for help
to dream again
and plan and research
to sit quietly
dive into our phones for the weekend
learn something new
What we are doing now is Life.
There is no waiting room or covered shelter.
We are already in the thick of it.
And we are challenged to both be in the moment and have a plan towards a goal.
This moment which represents all of our life
until it doesn’t as it moves
into the next moment.
There is no guaranteed ride. No bus ticket that will surefire take us to the life we have worked and longed for.
Our best bet, I’m guessing, is to live now. In good company. With grace extended to the people we know and to ourselves. To eat, drink and be merry…and mindful, in a community made of unrelated people randomly congregating around a shelter or an idea.
This could be a short ride or a long run.
Let’s hope for a healthy happy long run and live anyway.
Derringdo for the road ahead, friends. It could be beautiful in all of that messy middle.