I wish I had more time to…

I’ve got a new obsession — it’s a podcast called “Writing Class Radio”, which I serendipitously stumbled across in some other podcast or blog, and I downloaded one episode, just to see what it was like. The verdict? It’s awesome. So I downloaded a bunch more episodes and went out walking, because that’s how I roll.

So I’ve been walking and listening and listening and walking and came to an episode today that asked the question: “I wish I had more time to _____”. And like so many of their episodes, my brain turned the idea over and over, poking and prodding at it and wouldn’t let it go. I got back to the house, all sweaty and red-faced, and I did what they do in their class — I set a timer for 8 minutes and started writing. And this is what came out:

I’m not married. There are no kids to cart around to a dizzying number of activities. I have a stable 9-to-5 job (that actually runs from 6am to 2:30pm) and a lazy dog that doesn’t like to be walked outside. Suffice it to say, time is something I have. I work. I workout. I write and learn new things occasionally. You get the idea — while other women my age are barely getting enough sleep to be coherent each day, I’m basically living a life of luxury (assuming time = money, right?).

And yet, the prompt gnawed at me. What do I need more time for? What is it that I can’t fit into my empty-schedule days? And it struck me …

I wish I had more time to fight my fears.

Fears are funny things. They seem to uncontrollably grow to completely take up any space that they’re given. Like that weird expanding spray insulation, our fears understand that only by using up all available headspace can they create the kind of paralysis that makes free time worthless. Because what good is free time if you don’t spend it doing the things you truly want to do?

I have a few hours after work to go running with the running club? Fear creeps in and snatches it away — “no one there will run as slow as you are and they’ll probably laugh at you behind your back”. I sit back down on the couch, flip on the TV and silently agree. Maybe then I’ll crack open the laptop and work on that idea I have for an essay? Fear laughs and freezes my fingers — “why bother? You’re no good anyway. And you don’t have any ideas that anyone wants to hear about anyway.” Good point, I think.

How am I supposed to reclaim my time from the fears that take it away? How do I get past the reptile voices in my head that insist that I’m not good enough or that I’m trying to get too big for my britches?

Same way you eat an elephant, I suppose: one bite at a time.

Job one is recognizing the fears. Naming them. Job two is letting them know that it’s okay that they’re around — after all, they’re just trying to stop me from making a fool of myself — but — and this is job three — that I’m in charge now. I’m in the driver’s seat making the decisions and no, they can’t hold the map or suggest a destination. Hell, they’re not even allowed to fiddle with the radio. It’s my car, my journey, my rules.

And here’s how it works —

You fear #1, yes you — the one that makes me think that I’m not good enough to run with other people anymore. I’m naming you Dumbass. Dumbass, I know you’re doing everything you can to try and save my ego, but there’s no need for it. The running club people are really nice and inviting! And anyway, paces go from walking pace to running really fast. Guess what? I’ll fit in just fine. Dumbass, you can wait for me at home. In fact, you might want to find yourself other tasks, like doing the dishes and taking out the trash, because otherwise I think I’ll put you out of a job.

And you — fear #2, the fear that makes me think that my writing, my voice isn’t good enough to share. That I’m being vain or letting my ego call the shots when I post something on my blog. I’m going to call you Annoying Gnat. AG, you keep buzzing around my brain, infiltrating my thoughts and I know you’re going to try and gum up the works whenever I try and write, so I think it’s time you leave. Perhaps you should go back to the bike path and hang out with all your friends. Remember how much fun you used to have accidentally being swallowed and choked on by some poor random bike rider?

After that? Fear #3 and #4 and so on. I’ll keep at it as I find them, because there are certainly more than two, more than I can count, probably. But that’s how it’s done. Name them. Understand that their voice is not my voice; I should never, ever talk to myself the way those fears talk to me. And then make it clear that if they do intend to stay, that they abide by my rules. A little fear isn’t a terrible thing as long as they know that I’m the one in charge.

And bit by bit, I’ll take back the time that all my fears have been stealing from me.

Of course, it’s one of those “simple but not easy” things to do. But there’s the game plan, all laid out for myself. Just a matter of a little implementation. And after that?

I wish I had have more time to …. dream. And live! And do anything else I fucking well want to do, scary or not.

Isn’t that the point?

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