Sunday, February 6, 2011

No time like the present

I have been reflecting over the weekend on how I seemed to have been leading a programmed life, rather than one filled with much spontaneity.  The programmed life is the one in which I studied, got a job, got married, bought a few houses, and had a good career.  A programmed life is pretty much the norm in society.  But it does have its down side--such as those things that are put off because they are stray variables in the program.  When I think back on how many things that I have put on hold because the timing wasn't right or the situation didn't suit, I am amazed that I have gotten so much done.

It seems that I have always "sacrificed" what I wanted to do for those things that I thought I should do.  I should study so I won't do something for fun.  I should go for a higher degree so that I will get a better job.  I should make more friends but find it hard to get to know and stick with people.  I should do something about my attitude and fears around alcoholism but am ashamed to admit there is a problem.  The circumstances go on and on in which I put things off because of some other pressing thing that I thought had to be done.

I like to think that after so many years of putting off the things that I really wanted to do, I am now finally doing them.  I have had goals all my life.  And those goals kept me busy working towards their achievement.  I didn't hitchhike across country because I was in college or graduate school. We didn't have any children because the time never seemed right with both of us being so invested in our careers.  The amazing thing is that I have few regrets because I realize that the choices made were fairly well thought through at the time.  Or at least they seemed to be.

To me it seemed that it was a rational decision to keep going in school.  It seemed rational not to have a hiatus in a career because of a child.  It seemed rational to save money because we would need it for later in life.  So many things were put on hold to do at some time in the future.  

And so the years have slipped past.  As I get older, I realize that there were many things that I put off for some other time.  And the years are going faster now than ever it seems.  Some things were put off because I was so absorbed with the effects of alcoholism that my sense of living had become dulled.  I kept hoping that maybe someday things would change, and I wouldn't be so uptight about her drinking. Those were years of putting one foot in front of the other with occasional excursions of enjoyment.

It really is only now that I have begun to realize that there is no time like the present to do those things that I really enjoy.  It seems implausible that I worked for 31 years and had hobbies that took time.  Now that I am free from working at a job, I am trying to do those things that I enjoy and not putting them off.  I keep cramming things on my plate like a kid who is told to have free rein in a candy store.  I can't seem to get enough of living each day to the max.

And I have given up a few things that over time no longer were fun.  I discovered that one of the hobbies that I had enjoyed for so long was no longer giving me pleasure.  In fact, it had become a hassle. So I gave it up.  In its place, I took up sailing that gives me enormous pleasure.  It is a more solitary undertaking which I seem to enjoy.  I can take people in small bits but realize that I really need time to myself. And I took up recovery that made me realize  I don't have to curtail my activities because of alcoholism.  I can do those things that I like without regrets or fear of what might happen. Working with others in Al-Anon has also given me joy, and the friends made are genuine.

Buying a sailboat was something that I put off until retirement.  And now I am seeing that the present is filled with wonderful things because I do have the time.  I am no longer procrastinating about those things that I want to do.  I want a life well lived.  And to be fully engaged with it right up to the very end.  I don't want to be programmed anymore with schedules so that every moment is planned out.  I want to have spontaneity and freedom.  So for me, there is no time like now to get moving and start enjoying each day.


  1. your words echo in my soul. i kinda live like you, programmed. and aware of it i am too, so a few 'planned spontaneous' things have appeared over time. hopefully they'll continue, and be less planned, heee hee heee

  2. If you really mean what you say Syd, then I suggest you remove every clock, watch and calendar from everywhere in your life. Take time as a thing of the past and just do what you will right now, not as soon as you get around to it. Your future is today not tomorrow. This way everyday becomes different from yesterday and tomorrow never happens.

  3. i am looking forward to getting to that point myself...

  4. Great post about living in the present!

  5. That's a good way of putting it, programmed. I'll have to remember that, no wait I'll just put it into my planner.

  6. Congratulations! You are actually entering into retirement with the best of all attitudes. I can't tell you how many people I know who miss working and have no idea of how to "fill the hours" of retirement. I feel sorry for them. Just one hint from my experience...when you tire of doing exactly what you want because you have the time for it, try some volunteer work. My "job" at our local Free Care Clinic has/is very fulfilling...and, of course, I have 4 sponsees in AA so that gets me out of myself too and can be quite time consuming.
    Enjoy each day as it comes !

  7. I thought about you this weekend, Syd, when we were staying beside the water. I thought about the freedom you enjoy in your boat. And in your life now. So lovely.
    And I like that you can freely admit that you like alone time. Me too, as you know. And that's all right.

  8. You are a wise man, my friend. I am so glad you are enjoying your retirement.



  9. When I learned that I could let go of many of the "shoulds" in my life, I began to live freely. Great post.

  10. Awesome positivity. I am glad you are getting pleasure from the things you enjoy and are living every moment to the maximum. I hope every day that comes brings you more joy :)

  11. :) programmed living isn't bad. I wish I had've done better at following through to the end each time I started something I should, but really, I have found many amazing things in both the finished and unfinished lists of life.

    Its nice to have more to look forward to, more that will be revealed :)

  12. You have accomplished alot by setting goals it's nice you can live a more spontaneousness life now.
    I always felt like I didnt set enough goals for myself but being disappointed about my choices is part of my disease. Not being enough having enough etc self doubt.Learning to turn it over and let go has allowed me to live more fully and learn to trust.
    thanks for your share

  13. Never did I plan or carry out any big goals as you did. It takes discipline and strength to live as you have. Nothing was important to me at least not important enough to work at it. I always had a job and I would give my best effort at whatever the job was but I only enjoyed a job a couple times in my life and I have so many different types of jobs and not a career. Over the past couple years I have come to understand that my lifestyle was largely associated with my belief that I was not worth much and would not be able to make much of myself anyway. I would not say my life was a waste, just was what it was. Believing I am worthy now and living in a different dimension is exhilarating. I am so happy for you that you have reached a place in your retirement that you are able to look back at how you worked for what you wanted and are now in the place that you are reaping the reward of your hard work.

  14. HI Syd I answered your point about Desperately Seeking Diagnosis at mine I was a bit ranty I'm afraid, dont take that personally i just find the whole issue irritating.

    I need a diagnosis

    1: because the govt ask for one on forms

    2: because my life is a mess and i need to be able to tell creditors etc X was the problem

    3: because I get mood swings that are severe and CANNOT take antidepressants they set me into a manic depressive type state. It's bad enough I need medication and need the right meds. To get those meds I need a diagnosis.

    So that's it. I don't like having to think about this but I have to. I have to sort out this as a first priority. The drugs addiction has to come second. I was self-medicating for years because those useless drs wouldn't listen. Now they do! Now it's gone so bad they frequently ask do I want to go in hospital finally they listen!


  15. my tip re time: if you're going somewhere and know you are late DO NOT KEEP CHECKING THE TIME it will only stress you, you won't get there any faster. you'll just feel unhappier.

    that's what i do and it works a treat!

  16. so easy to be programmed. by society, mainstream media, tv, radio, movies, advertising, music, mindless distractions, shopping culture, gender, spoon fed historical education, religion, corporate control, by peer pressure, by the current societal 'norms'. Says who? Who says any of these ideas have any real merit?
    how difficult to think for myself. free of ALL those ideas bearing down. not easy. any real independence of thought is sooo valuable, and not easy.
    'Thinking for yourself is the new black' as they say..

    glad to hear you are able to reevaluate those strategies and make the most of the time you now have, which it sounds like you worked very hard for..

    time for reflection is the only way to make sense of the relentless tide of misinformation and trivial distractions. the boat sounds perfect for the job :)

  17. I worked had to elimate anything in my life that was unpredictable only to be bored out of my mind. I realized it was part of trying to make the child inside feel safe. No surprises was my motto. What it did is take the joy out of my life. As a real kid surprises are what life is all about. Today I live with uncertainty and don't try so hard to ruin the surprises life and my higher power has waiting for me. It is all good most of the time.


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