“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss is a metaphorical masterpiece.
It serves as a beautiful rhyming story for a toddler but also an inspirational and cautionary tale for adults. 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 you are 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 should probably 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. It’s a dark and useless space; it really serves no purpose at all but to drain the life out of you. I am very familiar with The Waiting 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 or the interest on your mortgage. 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. We need new doors, windows, siding, and new decks. It would be lovely if it was cosmetic, but alas, they are all either cracked, broken, peeling or falling (or a combination of two or more). Replacing everything at once is cost prohibitive so decisions have to be made. For years we talked about it but now my parents live here, so the process starts all over again. The priorities changed, the downstairs bath must be made handicap accessible and we may eventually need a ramp for outside.This planning started years ago and we have yet to agree on how to proceed. We sit in the Waiting Place while trying to make these decisions.
That’s right, it’s been years and we haven’t made one decision yet.
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, I could maybe live with it. The problem is I allow it to go on in almost every aspect of my life. I find it’s easier to put things off if it is uncomfortable or if there is risk involved.
I tend to pass on projects if they involve a phone call. Please, just let me send an email or a text. I’ve been known to put off Doctor’s appointments indefinitely rather than make 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 that time always gets postponed. I plan to get to that thing later.
As soon as the baby goes to school … (okay, she’s a freshman now), I’ll finish … during spring break (twice a year for five years), once I finish with my finals I can … (every semester) when I graduate I will … (except it didn’t work out that way).
The truth is this, chances are I won’t ever have time or money to do the things I want to.
I’ll probably be busy, tired, and stressed until that day I discover I waited too long. I’m ready to start now, because this is the time to live life, surrounded by my loved ones. So many things I worry about 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.
Make one call, decide on one positive action, confront one problem, move one step out of your comfort zone or travel to one place you have never been before…