From a very young age we begin to divide our lives into milestones. Education, independence, jobs, relationships, it all feels like a big conveyor belt and if you don’t keep up, you’ll get left behind. So instead of just living, we find ourselves anxiously trying to get to the next thing. Even when we’re not ready, we go for fear of missing out, for fear of looking like a failure, for the sake of meeting some socially constructed deadline. The worst part is that when we get there, we find out that the conveyor belt doesn’t just stop and say “hey thanks for running with me, you’re all good now,” no. The conveyor belt just gets faster, we get tired, we forget why we got on the belt, we stop enjoying anything anymore because of course all that matters now is learning how to stay on. The conveyor belt is exhausting.
And yet at the same time (pun intended), we get brief moments of relief from the belt. I’ve found these moments mainly in nature, playing with a child, writing a poem, or just doing what I truly love. I can’t explain what happens to time in those moments, it’s not that it disappears, it’s that I stop planning for the future and start enjoying the present. This presence concept is something I constantly struggle with, because if you know me you’ll know I’m sort of a space cadet. Yes, I may be in front of you eating ice cream, but I’m also probably thinking about a deadline two weeks from now that I have no current control over, but yet I am praying for answers at the bottom of my cone. I lose the enjoyment of the ice cream, you lose the enjoyment of my usual hilarity and obnoxious laughter, and just like that we both lose.
So, what to do? How do we start being here? Being present, wanting to do more and be more without being consumed by the belt? You’ve just spent all of 40 seconds reading this assuming I have answers I’m sure. Well, plot twist, I don’t.
But I do know that I want to get off the conveyor belt. I want to walk the dirt roads a little more. I’ll bring my compass (my values, my morals, my love for Him) and I’ll pray I am headed in the right direction. There will be signs for me, and I will heed them. There will be bumps, trips, falls, and I will heal from them. There will be beautiful views and then there will be clouds and rain but I’ll keep walking. This new path might might feel just as hard to keep up with as the conveyor belt, but the difference will be my direction, my Purpose. Will I get lost? Sure. In fact I hope so.
I want to dedicate more of my life to the places, and people, and projects where I get lost but find what I’ve been missing on that stupid belt that kept me running but staying in one place.* Can’t wait to see what I find.
*I low key hope I have put treadmills out of business after this, always hated them. fun facts: It’s 1 hour past my bed time, you spent 1-2 minutes of your life on this (thank you), and I will be 20 minutes late for work tomorrow (see point #1). Regret nothing.