#26. Shouldn’t I Be Doing Something?

Here’s a glimpse of what we did yesterday:

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We spent it as a family in the great outdoors, soaking in the sunshine and the heat from sandy orange rocks. We hiked up the stream shown above. We purchased local apples and taste-tested fresh cider. We went grocery shopping together. We were busy. We were adventuring. We were doing!

Here’s today in contrast:

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I went running, ate breakfast, helped Sam get started with his schoolwork, and downloaded a new book from Kindle Unlimited… and since 9 AM or so I’ve done basically nothing. Which maybe sounds perfect from the outside, but for my brain, doing nothing is an intensely discomfiting proposition. Kicked back like this, how am I using my life? What am I offering to the world and my family? Shouldn’t I be working? Using my Ph.D.? Earning money? Developing my supermom skills? Taking my kid somewhere educational? Getting dressed and leaving the RV, at least?

This series of questions represents a well-worn line of thought for me, and I prefer that my mind not have the opportunity to even start down that path. Today, it’s too late.

A friend posted this article on Facebook the other day, and I’ve read it at least four times because it was clearly written just for me: To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life. Especially on days like today, when my brain is roaming too much, I do have a gnawing sense that I am falling behind… Worse, that I fell behind a long time ago, and there’s no catching up now.

So I’m comforted by the author’s words: “You don’t need more motivation. You don’t need to be inspired to action. You don’t need to read any more lists and posts about how you’re not doing enough.”

You’re right. I most certainly do not. Thank you.

And, “You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.”

Stop right there. Really? Do I have permission to feel that way? Because I really WANT to feel motivated to do the things I think I should be doing. I really want to want to teach science, or coach people in proper health (which I thought I wanted to do, and sometimes I still want to do), or learn some new skill that would allow us to bolster our income (god, that would be nice).

But my motivation in those areas is touch and go at best, if not completely nonexistent.

I know what motivation feels like. I recognize it in my life: getting up at 5:30 AM to run for 20 miles, or spending hours researching travel routes and RV parks, or starting a blog post and looking up a while later only to discover than two whole hours have passed by while I’ve put words on the page and moved them around. I don’t think about whether to do those things because I’m too interested, too obsessed/obsessive to even consider debating the issue. I just go.

And then: …Excuse me, my brain squeaks, do those things even count? 

Again from the article: “You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than you tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough. You need to let timing do what it needs to do.”

So although I can’t say I totally, 100% believe it, I’m telling myself that for today, this is my best: sitting around in my leggings in an Arizona RV park, reading a book, letting my kid play Minecraft for hours, not earning a single cent but knowing that, in the big picture, I’m on an adventure with the people who matter most to me. And one day maybe something else will come out of this, or maybe it won’t, but it doesn’t really matter because this is enough.

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