I don’t want to cause anyone any alarm today, but I do want to remind anyone who reads this blog that our time on this planet is not infinite. That may seem obvious to you at this moment, but, trust me, the human mind does everything it possibly can to deny the fact that we are mortal. That mercifully prevents us from panicking about whether we’ll suffer a catastrophic health event today or tomorrow, but it can also prevent us from living with clarity and intention.
The fact is that we can actually decide to add meaning to our existences. And meaning is essential to optimizing them. Victor Frankl, the late and great psychiatrist, philosopher and writer who survived the Holocaust, put it this way:
. . . The fact of being is always more powerful than the word. And it [is] necessary, and will always remain so . . .
that each of us actualizes the content in our own act of being.
So why not take a few minutes to just sit quietly today—maybe right after finishing up reading this blog—and really think about whether you are doing the work in this world you were destined to do, whether there’s a creative project you really have truly wanted to embark upon, whether there’s someone you love who deserves more quality time with you or whether there’s someplace you have long hoped to visit?
Let the thoughts sit with you a bit. Let it be a beginning of forming real resolve to do that very thing you bring to mind. And don’t forget to remind yourSELF that you don’t have forever to do it. In fact, you don’t know whether you have a long time to do it or a short time to do it.
Remember: Our lives are stories. We’re “writing” our autobiographies every minute of every day. The fact that the minutes blend into hours and days and weeks and months and years calls upon us to write and edit our stories with intention and, to the extent humanly possible, without delay.
That brings us to the next step. After you summon thoughts about something you very much want to get done in this world, take one step to do it that very day—today, if you take my advice. If it’s a phone call you want to make to someone important to you, make it. If it’s a career path you want to pursue, order a book about the profession or register for a course to begin learning about it. If it is painting your very first painting, buy the paints and canvas.
I hope you will forgive me another J.D. Salinger quote from one of my favorite books, Franny & Zooey. This one is from a scene in which Zooey is urging Franny to stop avoiding her acting talent. It speaks for itself:
Somewhere along the line – in one damn incarnation or another, if you like – you not only had a hankering to be an actor or an actress but to be a good one. You’re stuck with it now. You can’t just walk out on the results of your own hankerings. Cause and effect, buddy, cause and effect. The only thing you can do now, the only religious thing you can do, is act. Act for God, if you want to – be God’s actress, if you want to. What could be prettier?
. . . You’d better get busy, though, buddy. The goddamn sands run out on you every time you turn around.
I know what I’m talking about. You’re lucky if you get time to sneeze in this goddamn phenomenal world.
Get busy. That’s pretty much what I have been saying in less beautiful language. I sure am glad J.D. Salinger got busy and wrote at least some of the books he intended to.
Dr. Keith Ablow