Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible. – Doris Lessing
How many times have you felt a kick in your gut to take an opportunity, fulfill a dream, or exercise a passion, but your response to yourself was, “I don’t have time,” or “I’ll do it later,” or even worse, “The chances of success are slim.”? Explaining my own answers to that question would take entirely too long, so let’s just agree you’ve got company here if your answer was anything greater than zero (and if it WAS zero, will you sprinkle some fairy dust on me, please? Thanks.).
That quote above came as an inspirational nudge from a blog I recently started following, Studio Mothers, and it got me thinking about planning amidst unpredictability. I suppose everyone experiences this to a certain extent, but I know for sure that military spouses experience a highly concentrated version of it. It’s hard to plan even a couple months ahead sometimes, not knowing if you’ll be solo parenting, preparing for some sort of transition, or even if you’ll still be living where you are. I don’t just mean planning for your family; I mean planning for yourself, too.
How easy is it for a military spouse plan for a job, make a name for herself within a given organization or cause, or devote regular and serious time to a personal interest, when the fact remains that we don’t know if we’ll be here next year, we are solo-parenting for the moment, we don’t have Grandma at the ready to help, we are much too tired at the end of the day….? Many of us have probably thought at one time or another, “What’s the point of starting that now if I (might) have to stop in the next (insert length of time)?”
A while back, a friend of mine was trying to decide whether she should apply for a great job, wrestling with the common conundrum: I don’t know if we’ll even be here in another year. She ended up going for it after a friend advised her: you can only plan for what you know now. Such simple advice, but so brilliant. Forget about next year’s “maybes.” Focus on NOW. (Incidentally, my friend got the job, is enjoying the challenge she was ready for professionally, and didn’t end up moving.)
So here’s what I know NOW: I’ve called writing my hobby since I was eight. When I was in my 20s, it slipped to the back burner for a number of reasons – grad school, jobs, marriage, moves, kids, etc. Once in a while it would experience a resurgence, but it would always fall to the wayside again. Over the summer, I decided I had to put a stop to it. I’m in my mid-thirties, and it’s time to stop making excuses. I could feel it in my gut – I want to write, I know I can write.
And what I’ve experienced in the last few months is that having this outlet is food for my soul, and it actually makes me better at the unchanging commitments I do have. I feel excited every time I post something, I’m a happier person for my husband to come home to, I feel motivated when I let ideas ruminate in my mind, I speak with enthusiasm at the dinner table, I channel my giddiness into playful interaction with my kids, I become more closely involved in relationships and projects already in place.
Will there be a hiatus at some point, when we next move for example? Yup. Will I fall off the writing wagon when my kids are sick or I’m helping to plan an event at their school? Most likely. But focusing on those conditions makes all the good stuff now impossible. Planning on the “maybes” erases the potential for good now. Turning uncertainties into “preventatives” makes now dull.
There’s always going to be that thread in my life, looming in my periphery or sitting right in my focus: the military life automatically means my life contains countless uncertainties, maybes, preventatives. When looking ahead at future transitions, events, or moves, I don’t have dates, deadlines, or maps.
But I chose this life, and unpredictability is the nature of the beast here. And I must press forth with the attitude that it’s completely untrue that I can’t experience personal fulfillment, happiness, and success amidst uncertainties.
I think I’m meant to be a writer, whether it remains a hobby or becomes a career. I’m meant for it. So I’m doing it now, planning for it now, and relishing in the joy that comes from it. NOW.
If you’ve got a spark of motivation in your gut, go for it! And tell us about it in the comments section. If you like, please feel free to share on Facebook using the tag below.