The Siren Call of Doing it All
“How do I fit everything I want to accomplish into this lifetime?”
I asked for that question. Well, not for that one specifically, but when I had a whim to ask my Facebook family what they’d like for me to address in my next newsletter, this is the challenge that the higher power that likes to play a practical joke on me now and again thought I needed to be hit with.
So for Susan, who says that this question is one she thinks about all the time, and for myself and for you, I’ll do my best to meet that challenge.
It seemed to me that there are two variables we need to examine – “want” and “this lifetime.”
Because “want” is a really big word, encompassing desires that range from “I want to get the yard mowed this weekend” to “I want to make a lasting impact on the huge number of people who feel alone and unappreciated in this world.”
So when we ask how to accomplish everything we want to accomplish in this one lifetime that we are aware of living, the easy answer is, “want less.”
But that isn’t my answer. That is an answer of limitation and we aren’t going to accept that.
So what about that other variable, “this lifetime?”
We cannot know the size of that one, it’s possible now to live an active life well past 100 years of age, and it’s also possible to die unexpectedly without reaching another birthday. Since we cannot measure the time of this lifetime, it becomes tempting to look at other limitations, like energy, physical health, money, and opportunity.
As my mind went sorting through variables and perceived limitations I found myself back on a South Florida beach.
I was walking with the coach I was working with at the time. And she was trying to convince me that I was throwing my life away. She peppered me with clichés and questions, and I managed to walk through a mile of sand while digging in my heels.
What role did I see myself playing in the world? I told her one of my greatest abilities was to be an appreciative, encouraging member of the audience.
How dare I see myself as simply audience when she could see I was born for so much more? Because I don’t undervalue the audience. Sometimes, just one person putting all their heart into applauding the performance is enough to keep the art alive.
How could I live with knowing that if I didn’t get on that stage and start sharing my story, my brilliance, my talents, I was going to die with the music still inside?
I still remember how the sand felt, sharp and startled under my sliding, stopping feet.
I stood dead still, staring back at her. And I said, “I bloody HOPE I die with music left inside of me. Can you imagine what it would feel like to run out of music before you ran out of life?”
How I said what I said after that, I don’t remember. But I will never forget what I taught myself on that beach with the wind picking up, storm clouds gathering, and the sun sinking behind me.
I learned that I am limitless. That the more music I create, the more music will be there for me to share.
Because the act of creation is itself procreation. You birth one thought, one idea, one accomplishment, one little bar of music into this world and suddenly – that one makes 20 more possible. Thoughts, ideas, desires, and songs that could never have been a part of you before are magically there, seeds sowed by the one, singular thing that you brought forth just seconds before.
Of course I will die with things undone, with desires unfulfilled, with music still rising from my soul to my lips. That is as it should be. As it must be. Because anything less means I have sterilized myself.
I don’t ever want to say “I did all that I wanted to do.” Because that “all” would imply that my possibilities for doing, or my desire for doing them, are finite, and I know they are not.
I want to be able to say “I spent all my life doing what my soul wanted me to do.”
Because then I will know there was no moment wasted.