“It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow.”
—Robert Hastings

In a time when everything seems to be a source of stress, including stressing about how to de-stress, the lesson is clear: There will always be something to worry about.

This is not exactly breaking news. When you reach a certain age, you realize there is always at least one imperfection in life to distract you from all the good things (which when you add them up, almost always outnumber the anxiety-inducing flaws).

The worries do tend to have their own special brainwashing power though, don’t they? They can steal our attention, making us believe that they alone are in the driver’s seat and until such time as they decide to fade away, we are powerless to avert our eyes. Until the stressors are gone, we believe we’re not allowed to move freely about the cabin. We must remain in our seats, seatbelt fastened — “just in case” of turbulence.

What will you allow to keep you strapped into your seat, either until existing turbulence stops or because you’re worried about future turbulence?

To reference the third transportation metaphor in this email, Robert Hastings, in his spot-on poem, “The Station,” reels off a list of conditions of satisfaction — otherwise known as “When I’m… then I will allow myself to live.” When I’m this age, when the last child is through college, when the mortgage is paid off, when I retire… and so on.

Now for the version of this that I hear from aspiring authors: “When _______, I will write my book.”

  • I find some extra time.
  • Project X is cleared off my plate.
  • Work isn’t so busy.
  • Life isn’t so busy.
  • I can give a book my full and undivided attention.
  • The holidays are over (but then there’s the “after holidays” busyness followed by more holidays).
  • I win that all expenses paid year long vacation on a remote tropical island (or cabin in the woods).

Get the picture?

If we’ve learned anything this year, hopefully it’s that the station can show up without warning and a lot sooner than we think. We can find ourselves approaching life curves on roads that previously appeared straight.

When will “when” be for your goals and dreams, book writing or otherwise? When will you give yourself permission to take off your seatbelt and move about the cabin — even if it’s still bumpy and maybe you fall down a few times trying to find your balance?

When will you decide that uncertainty is worth taking a chance on?
It occurs to me that maybe it’s called a “bucket list” not just because of the adage “kick the bucket,” but because all the excuses we come up with to avoid going after the things on the list, can fill a bucket.

There is no right time. There is only now.