My first exhale actually came the week prior to my last class. 'Twas the day of Kory's son's birth and since the young man's arrival into this world was scheduled, I was able to make my own arrangements around it. That fine Thursday morning, I worked from home. Friends, I'm telling you, it was the most glorious thing in the world.
I slept in that extra forty minutes my body so badly craves every day. I read the morning paper and went through my usual workout without worry or hurry. I showered and dressed without checking my watch or yelling at myself to pick a damn shirt and move, move, move(!). I prepared a sensible breakfast, opened all the blinds and windows to let the draft breeze casually through, tuned in to my favorite sportstalk radio TV simulcast, sat down and took a comforting sip of coffee. Then I got to work. I really did work. In fact, I dare say I was more present, more efficient, and more active than I would normally have been in the office. Who wouldn't be, working from their couch with a cat on their lap and natural light on their face? I sent off a salvo of emails and whirled through the usual miscellaneous home busyness as I waited for replies. It felt a lot better than slouching further and further into an office chair and cruising espn.com, I assure you.
After a few hours of tangoing my way through work, I set out into the world, journeying to the foreign land of Newport Beach to meet my new non-biological nephew. It always feels unmistakably different to be not at work on a work day, but this was the first time in a while that I could say it felt decidedly good. Usually, I would only be home if I were sick and when I wasn't focusing on the misery of that state, I would be feeling guilty for wimping out and wondering if everyone believed me. Now I was catching a glimpse of what I had only known as Weekend World did with it's all its spare time, which was the same damn beautiful things. There was a sense of freedom and it whet my appetite in a dangerous way.
It was just too nice. The next day, I found myself asking those big questions where the answers only lead to more questions and frustration. What was I doing with my life? Isn't life too short to spend 40+ hours a week indoors, chained to a desk? Wasn't it true that I wasn't even working to live, but merely working to get by? I liked my job fine for now, sure, but what was I doing that was so much more interesting that it was worth sacrificing paid vacation time and light at the end of the Big Picture tunnel? What use was the wisdom of appreciating the forest of life despite the trees if I didn't have the balls to act on it? And why didn't I? Did I ever? Or was I just a misguided dreamer who should be happy to be employed, married with cats and access to premium cable? What should I do, what should I do, what should I do?
The most frustrating thing about moments such as these is that no matter how many times I return to them, no matter how many times I find myself needing to make a change, I never have the time to fully think it through as to what shape that change should take. It's like a dream where I find myself standing at the edge of a diving board. I stare at the crystal blue pool below, I smell the bouquet of chlorine, water, sunscreen, and pavement. I bend my knees and hold my breath and take a big bouncing step onto the board, preparing to commit myself to the dive...but then I wake up. I return to the dream every night, but it always starts from scratch at the standing position and ends before I've even made the instantaneous decision to bounce again or lean into the dive, much less feel the cool piercing of the pool. It's a replaying dream always awakened by the alarm of responsibility, the tractor pull of maintaining the idle hum.
I am not naive enough to think mine is an original dilemma. I feel as if I've read about it a thousand times, but it's usually the setup to some one's success story, how they managed to achieve their wonderfully balanced, thriving lifestyle. I can only hope that someday I can cut and paste this post before the next chapter about the happy happenstance of what followed. I know what I have to do the next time I find myself at the edge of the diving board. I know the answer is to not look, not bend, not take a bouncing step, just fucking jump. I know that. However, it's Thursday so I might as well finish out an even week before quitting my job to walk the earth.
So in the meantime...I can at least take solace in that I am not miserable. I am generally quite happy, smelling the roses, gawking at the majesty of the cornflower blue sky and what not. My impatience for vacation has been appeased by a couple of recent weekenders. Those are the pictures I've sprinkled throughout here as they help me maintain sanity as I live and write this stuff. Inner peace and joy despite the constrictions of practical life is most important and I am very thankful to have that. Even if that peace is teetering as it taps its wristwatch and stares at me as if to say "okay, nice little nap, now get back to acting." Which I will, but, like I said before, that's another post for another day. One can only afford so much open-ended hodge podge in a day. If you're still with me all the way down here, thanks for listening.