Posts Tagged 'Time'

Getting Organized

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping...

My least favorite part of having a mental to-do list is that I haven’t yet compiled it into a written, tangible to-do list. The penultimately worst part is knowing there are so many things to do that aren’t on my immediate to do list, so that they get relegated to the larger, long-term to do list that makes me sigh with frustration. For each time I silently wish for a full week of nothing to do but my to-do list, I have to make a mental note to wish for an additional week once all primary to-do’s are done so that I can get to the second-tier.

I have things that don’t belong to me: books borrowed from people that I’m not going to read or that I have read, including an entire comic book run (how do I transport that back to Kansas City for Christmas? Do I bite the bullet and mail it?), DVDs I haven’t watched in months and won’t watch for another few months. There are shelves sitting beside my book case that I meant to hang a year ago and another stack of smaller shelves in the closet that I bought but haven’t set up. And where there are un-hung shelves, there are pictures and knick-knacks and clutter, much of which should just be discarded anyway – yet another thing to do. There is my grand-parents’ typewriter that I want to get working again; old clothes to be taken to Goodwill; serving the community I keep wanting to do with my church; an impending oil-change; organization of financial records.

But this is the way these things go, you never get as much done as you want to. I’m notorious with myself for trying to pack usefulness into every spare second of the day and failing without fail.

But now, between now and the end of the year, I see some very achievable things to be done that almost always make my to-do lists. By the end of the month, I’m going to finish reading Freedom (almost to page 400 now), finish writing a screenplay, continue looking for a job – I have multiple leads in a few wildly different job markets – and continue daily devotionals, which include praying, reading in both the Old and New Testaments, and occasionally journaling. These things are doable.

Looking a little further ahead, which gets a little more dangerous, I’d like to complete two more short screenplays by the end of the year, totaling no more than 40 pages total, and have definitive plans to make one of three different short films in the first quarter of next year. The big goal right now, though, is, and has to be, getting a job. An industry job would be ideal and is possible, but any of a few different things will do. I’m getting antsy. My bank account is by no means dwindled, but neither can I describe it as full or robust.

Time is my problem. Organization can be a fickle friend. But things will happen and before long I’ll be longing for the ability to stay up until 3:45am writing a blog on a whim that was definitely not on today’s to-do list.

So Now Then

Ten years ago tonight, with the clock ticking toward midnight, there was an immense anxiety in me about what would happen. The world might forever be changed. It so filled my mind that I don’t really remember anything else I talked about that night, aside from this one thing – will I get to kiss my girlfriend? Y2K be damned, I didn’t care if the world ended or not; only about what it would be like to kiss her.

I didn’t. I chickened out. But it’s okay, we made up for it and then some for the next year or so.

Boy things were different back then. Looking back on the last ten years of my life, I am in the unique position of having come of age during this time, which is a strange thing and who knows, maybe ten years from now I’ll be saying the same thing about the next decade. But for now, I want to remember when.

This was the decade I graduated high school. And college. It’s the decade I got my first car. My first job. While things were in motion, this is the decade I fell in love with the movies and with acting and with writing. I directed my first movie. Isn’t it strange to think that 10 short years ago, I hadn’t seen my favorite movie of all time? Most of my favorite movies, in fact. I started reading books. Started reading The Bible. I hadn’t heard most of my favorite music yet. Think of it. All of these things that occupy my time and my mind and my heart and direct my life on a daily basis, and I didn’t have any idea they were out there. Things I can’t imagine being without; not the physical thing-ness of them, but the experience of them. The knowledge of them, the understanding of them. If you take enough of those things away, you take me away. I’m not me without them. I couldn’t be, I wouldn’t want to be, and I don’t know who I’d be. I’ve seen well over 1,000 movies in the last 10 years. Many of them good, some of them bad, and quite a few of them life-changing. Life-changing. A movie. A song. A television show. A fiction. A podcast. People doing things who I don’t know personally but somehow know deeply. Now how in the world does that happen?

And what about the people who do populate my life? Friendships that were only a few months or a couple years old are now lifelong bonds that have carried me through so much these years. People I didn’t know, or only knew peripherally. And now, what would life be without them? Where would I be? I had the immense fortune of having incredible friends around me at every turn these last 10 years. Where I would be without them is lost, completely stupidly lost. What kings and queens of goodness they are, what multitudes they hold.

There are small big things too. I voted for the first time, had my first beer, got my first tattoo, my first apartment, got my first corporate job, quit that job and moved to another state. I took my first trip out of the country, I went on vacation by myself and found I am a good traveling companion. I wrote and wrote and wrote thousands of pages of stories and journals and movies and essays and papers. Endless experiences and events and things done and things wished for and not received and regrets and elations and disappointments and poorly-timed, well-worded remarks that got me in mountains of trouble. 10 years ago I thought I was right all the time. Now I know the percentage is slightly lower, and things are often my own fault.

10 years is enough time, it turns out, to meet someone, love them, know them for 7 years, be hurt by them long enough and badly enough that you don’t know her anymore. 10 years of my life is still a pretty high percentage of it at this point (a little over 38% of it). And there is no bleed-over. It is a thing contained within one decade, a little parenthesis of a thing that, 20 years from now will matter, won’t matter, who knows? But there is before and there is after and it doesn’t reach either of them. It is cut off. That’s a little scary when you think about it.

10 years ago, I thought of my life in terms of my parents’ rhythms. Married by a certain age, children by a certain age, career by a certain age. It took time to realize that a different pattern was waiting for me. 10 years ago, I don’t think I could ever know I’d be sitting where I am today. If I talked to myself, I wouldn’t believe me. How much I had to learn. How much I have to learn. 10 years ago, I thought I would be a film actor. I don’t think I thought very highly of the theatre. 20+ plays later, I see I was a fool. The thrill of walking onto a stage in front of an audience and inhabiting another life is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The experience of being watched is similar to playing a sport, but it’s a different kind of thrill. I love them both. Still another is to write something you’re proud of and see it performed by someone else in front of a couple thousand people. And another to write and direct something, find the time and people and equipment to capture it on film, edit it, toil over it, and then see it projected onto a screen in a dark room with people you don’t know. To hear them react to it, find it is all out of your hands now. These things are magical. I wouldn’t trade these things for anything, and I wouldn’t ruin them by explaining them away to my younger self. If I never see them again, I’m glad for what I’ve got.

So now then. What have we learned? What conclusions can we draw? What do we do now? How can I do better? The best answer I know is to say that these aren’t questions reserved for the ends of decades, but for every day. Contentment in limbo. It sounds like an impossible thing, but I think that’s where the truth lives. If I find out, I’ll tell you in 10 years.


It Has Come to This

May 2017
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