I was recently talking to a friend of mine about people who continuously delay doing something they would love to do for themselves because they feel obligated to do something else. Not surprisingly, that "something else" is usually for someone else. We tossed around a few ideas; but the more I thought about it the more I think I may have come up with at least one reason why people often put off their wants.
These days there are so many things going on around us. Deadlines to be met, bills to be paid, errands to be run, and money to be made. We get so caught up in the illusion of hurriedness and "have to" that those things becomes life for many of us. We get lulled to sleep by repeating our routines and doing the same type of activities over and over again. Especially things that we are not the least bit excited about doing. The patterns become familiar and we get caught up. We slip into a semi-conscious dream-state and forget that these things might be a part of our lives, but they are far from being the totality of our existence.
Life is short. We say this often, but how much do we internalize those words? If we knew in our core how short life actually is, we would not waste it fulfilling obligations, denying ourselves and pleasing others. So it's time we wake up from this dream filled with demands on our time and patience. In the words of Red from The Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living or get busy dying."
Now, don't misunderstand me. I know that we have certain responsibilities and obligations as a society of responsible adults. We all have a list of "must do" items that we can't ignore. I'm not suggesting that we throw caution to the wind; abandon our jobs, default on our student loans; refuse to make another meatloaf. My simple suggestion is this - right next to that list of "must do" items, we should have a list of "may do" items. As we go through the days, months, and years of our routines, we should select from those lists as if we are ordering from a menu. For a balanced life, choose a balance of things from each list. Once we stop trying to make a living and start making a life for ourselves, we achieve balance. And that is what life is all about - balance.