Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eat, Pray and Hand me the Potato Chips

It's been said in so many ways in so many songs, books, movies, poems, Facebook memes, Tweets, and bumper stickers: "Live life to the fullest," "Get the most out of every moment," "Go big or go home." You get it.

Man that's a lot of pressure.

I don't disagree with the sentiment, but it sure ups the stakes for a trip to the grocery store or a morning of cleaning the bathrooms or a good old fashion session of paying the bills. I'm not kidding, I actually feel guilty if I'm not self-actualizing in an Eat Pray Love kind of way(disclaimer, I've never actually read the book since I became outraged that she could in fact afford to take a year off to find her gooey nougat-y center.). And I bombard myself with anthemic music and inspirational chuck-it-all-and-make-the-big-life-changing-choice movies. I buy all the greeting cards with the quotes like "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail," and I frame them and hang them in opportune locations throughout the house. I take this shit seriously.

But somedays I want to sit on the couch and knit and watch Castle-doesn't even need to be a first-run episode, reruns do quite nicely. Sometimes I want to walk around the mall and look at awesome t-shirts in Hot Topic and then flirt with buying a cinnamon sugar pretzel at Aunt Annie's (though I always crap out and just get a Mounds or pretzel M & Ms at the kiosk by the food court). Sometimes I lose  hours to playing Candy Crush. And sometimes I search Etsy and Pinterest for an embarrassingly long time in search of unique Star Wars and Wonder Woman products. I think we can all agree that I am not living life to the fullest in those moments.

And if I'm confessing, I do actually want to be better than I am, live the examined life, seek enlightenment through spiritual journeys, but I'm not terribly ambitious, don't love to read non-fiction and am not in a financial or logistical position to pick up and move to Italy, India and Bali for an indeterminate amount of time. I don't mean to beat up on Elizabeth Gilbert, or any one who is braver smarter and more carefree than I am. Truth be told I am both jealous and resentful of them. Jealous, because that sounds like fun, and lord knows a little clarity in this muddled mind couldn't hurt anyone. Resentful, because hey what's so wrong with me? Right?

But resentment is really just a massive justification for not trying harder. I know I should meditate and buy yoga pants to actually do yoga and climb something big and natural. I don't really want to though. That wouldn't be my version of living life to the fullest. My version may be quieter. Given the moment and circumstances living life to the fullest can look many different ways. Some ways, most likely my ways, will not sell books or inspire masses, but that does not discount them. Somedays living life to the fullest looks like grocery shopping or cleaning the bathrooms, or paying the bills. Sometimes accomplishing all that in one day (okay one week, sometimes only monthly), fills me with a sense of pride and self-esteem, gives me enough confidence to go out and try something new. And I know the difference between that and when I've wasted a day. It feels good in the moment and is often justified as self-pampering, but ultimately just mimics the aftermath of eating a whole bag of potato chips-bloated, gassy and thirsty.

Ultimately the guilt and inspiration I feel when I see another re-worded aphorism telling me to live life to the fullest comes from the same point of motivation-I don't want to waste my life. And I don't think I am. I am fearless in many ways; in some ways, I can be moreso. I don't mind working on that. I'm not going to go bungee jumping to accomplish this, but I might speak up for myself more in this meeting or that. I might stop spending so much time worrying about my weight. I hope to lament less and less about where I thought I'd be right now and try to be interested in where I am. These strides are not huge, and sometimes they go backwards, but then again, my life is not huge. Right now my life is reminding folks to pick their underwear up off the living room floor and not to ponder too long over how it got there in the first place.

I just have to remember the next time I'm sitting in traffic and the bumper in front of me challenges my existence that full does not always mean huge or busy or universally memorable. Sometimes full means satisfied and looking forward to more. Like how you feel after eating a good meal or an entire bag of potato chips.

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