“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss is a metaphorical masterpiece.
It’s a beautiful rhyming story for a toddler but also an inspirational and cautionary tale for adults about getting stuck. I could write an amazingly thorough review, but there is really no need; it’s been done by many more accomplished and talented writers before me. In the book, when presented with too many choices, your options aren’t clear, you can’t decide whether the advantages outweigh the benefits, you need more information, or you just can’t make up your mind… Whatever the obstacles, you can’t seem to make yourself move forward.
You are in that place that Seuss calls “The Waiting Place”.
The procrastination starts out innocently enough with a “I should research it online before I commit”, followed by a “I’ll see if it gets better” and then “things are so crazy, it’s just not the right time”, but the worst is the “As soon as X happens, then I . can . do . all . the . things”. You know the things; go back to school, fix up your house, start a diet, learn how to knit, find a new job, start your blog… all THOSE things. BUT you can’t, not right now because you are in The Waiting Place.
The Waiting Place is that place we get stuck; it really serves no purpose at all but to drain the life out of you. I am very familiar with this dark and miserable place, in fact I think there should be a rule that if you stay longer than a decade, you should be able to claim it on your taxes like a home office. By my calculations, I’ve been stuck here for almost twice that.
A lot of the inertia is the result of circumstances beyond my control.
My house is in serious need of maintenance. If it was only cosmetic, it would be okay, but alas, although we have new doors, windows, and siding, the decks are falling apart and the driveway is a nightmare. The inside is worse because the bathrooms and kitchen need complete renovation. We talked about it for years but now my mom lives here, so the priorities change. The downstairs bath needs handicap accessibility and we eventually need a ramp for outside. Every room needs new paint, flooring, and furniture (or at least a combination of two or more). The planning started years ago and we don’t agree on how to proceed. Repairing everything at once is not a possibility so compromises must be made. We sit in the Waiting Place while we try to make decisions.
That’s right, it’s been years and we are still stuck in a haze of inertia.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right and three quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
I lay much of the blame at my own feet. If it was just my house, maybe I could live with it. The problem is I allow it to go on in almost every aspect of my life. It’s easier to put things off if it is uncomfortable or if there is risk involved.
I pass on projects if they involve a phone call. Please, just let me send an email or a text. Doctor’s appointments can be put off indefinitely rather than making a two minute call. The list of current calls I need to make is somewhere around a dozen, most have been on the list for at least a month. My life is scheduled to start sometime in the future but the future gets postponed. There is a plan to get to that thing later.
As soon as the baby goes to school _____ (okay, she’s a freshman in college),
I’ll finish during my winter downtime at work _____ (five years in a row now),
If I can just finish with the financial aid applications then I can _____ (11 of the last 16 years),
Once I graduate I will _____ (except that was in 2014 and it just didn’t work out that way.).
Or one of a hundred other arbitrary hurdles I have to get over first…
The truth is this, chances are there will never be enough time or money to do the things I want to.
I may be busy, tired, and stressed but it will be too late before I realize it. It’s time to start now because this is the time to live my life, while I am still surrounded by my loved ones. So many things I worry about and they just don’t matter. It’s time to break out of The Waiting Place even if it is just by inching one toe out the door.
Life is doesn’t care if we have plans or projects we haven’t finished. It doesn’t care if we have dreams we never fulfilled. Life is fragile and runs on its own schedule so we need to do it now.