Everyday we have to make decisions. Most of them are small. More of a choice of variety. Do I eat yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast. Some of them are essential, yet still small. Do I eat breakfast today? Do I brush my teeth before bed? These decisions all pile up and make for the bulk of what we carry around with us each day. I can go days sometimes without doing the dishes because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of it and I have plenty of clean cups and plates in the cupboard. If I don’t want to cook, I can eat whatever junk I have in the cabinets. It’s just me. If I don’t tell people I had a bag of cornchips and a can of beer for dinner, who is going to judge? People only know what you tell them.
Sometimes we have a whole pile of shit to do, and we do something else to give ourselves a little bit of relief. Like a six hour round trip to Dutch Bros. because it is sticker day. Or watching a movie alone. Or taking a drive to photograph the leaves, which nobody else will probably ever see. Reading is a big one. Just you creating dreams in your head as you stare at words and turn pages. There’s no money in it. It’s a slow burn, but worth it. For many years, I was accused of being lazy when I read. I could have been doing something else!
Or I could have just been reading.
Sometimes these tiny little decisions add up, and when we have a larger task they are either ignored, or they are what take our focus so we can avoid the bigger decisions. One of my writing routines is to wash, hang, and fold my laundry. Sometimes it is to do my dishes. As I stand there with my hands in hot soapy water, I can think about the story. The same is true of folding clothes. Though more often than not, these chores are also when I catch up with friends on the phone. When I’m on a phone call, I tend to wander around the house, sometimes I go outside. When I’m off the phone I’ll often realize that in my distraction I have been fiddling with things and now I have no idea where I put them. So, it’s best to just put the body on autopilot and let the brain work to catch up with people.
Yesterday was a day filled with frustrations. Lots of time in my own headspace. Overthinking. It was a day of decisions. A day which began with not exactly being happy with God, and a day which ended with me hating myself even more. We all have these days. (For the legal disclaimer for opposing counsel, EVERYONE has these days, I’m just the one writing about it–don’t get too excited–I’m not an emotionless robot, fuck). Yesterday, I was angry. Angry with so much. Life isn’t fair. I know it sounds cliched, but I wondered when something is finally going to go right in my life.
It all starts with a decision.
I can choose to hold on to bitterness. I can choose to hold onto pain. Or I can stand up and walk. I can be hopeful that everyday will bring new challenges, but also new opportunities. That the life we imagine for ourselves often pales in comparison to the life we actually get. One small step at a time. Even if it feels like this road will take forever. Even if there are days you don’t recognize yourself or even like that person much at all.
Sometimes the worst feeling in the world is feeling like you have no choice.
I might have missed a couple times of brushing my teeth. I might have made sad choices from time to time, I might have pushed away everyone who was close to me, and I might have done a hundred other things that didn’t make anything better. But I have today. I chose to be the man I have been trying to get back to being for the last seven years. I chose a man who doesn’t let himself be blown about by every wind. I chose to be a man who puts himself out there when the idea of it is terrifying, but who also knows that doing nothing hurts so much worse. I chose to be someone who also knows that he will get kicked in the teeth sometimes. There’s a lot of that coming.
I can choose to have an angry day where I resent pretty much everything and everyone. Which is where I was most days when I was married. Or I can wake up, make some coffee, believe in myself, and move forward. I can work on my book because it is worth writing, I can take time for myself, I can grieve the situation with my son. I can be angry at the situation, but I don’t need to let it defeat me. And I don’t need to feed off that anger or sadness. Even if I don’t nail it today, it’s like any other discipline. You get better at it the more you practice.
Deciding to try is your first step. Good luck.