If not now, then when?

If not us, not them,
If not now, then when?
If not here, nor there,
If not this world, then where?
– John Gorka

I’ve spent a lot of time recently focusing on details – important stuff, and necessary, but it’s so easy to get trapped in this kind of minutiae.  Yesterday was a day off for me, and so I sat down in the morning, big cup of tea at the ready and thought more about the big picture stuff – basically, the big things in my life that I value and plan to have, and how all of the small stuff will help me to get there.

Someday, I will have some land with a big garden.  I’ll have a small, sturdy house with a woodstove, a well-stocked library, and a large table at which to feed people.  There will be animals.  Chickens and bees, definitely, and probably some sheep and goats, too.  I’ll spend time outside, working, walking, and running before I come in for academic pursuits.  I’ll eat good, homegrown, homemade, home preserved foods and will make my own bread, pickles, pasta, jam, and cookies.  I’ll also make my own hats, scarves, gloves, t-shirts, and dresses.  At night, I’ll to curl up on the couch in front of a fire with a big mug of tea and a stack of books and read until I’m ready for sleep.  And then, I’ll do it all again.

By and large, these have often been seen as “future plans”, viewed like a light at the end of a long tunnel that someday, with some luck, I’ll finally emerge from into the bright world of living off the land and getting back to nature and all the fun stuff that I dream about.  These are the things that somehow, someday I hope to reach.  But I noticed that when I originally wrote that last paragraph, it consisted of a lot of sentences starting with “I want”.  I’ve now changed it to better spell out that these are things I will have and actions that I will take, not just that I hope for at some nebulous time in the future.

But once I looked at it again, I realised that the only thing in the description that I didn’t or couldn’t have right now was the land with the house and the animals.  I already cook, bake, and preserve.  I garden, knit, and sew.  I can’t say I do these things often or well enough right now to sustain us, but they’re all there, and I could certainly work on doing them more, since they’re things that I usually enjoy.  And on top of all that, it’s a rare day that I don’t end on the couch with tea and a book.  I just don’t happen to have a fire in front of me.

What really struck me in all of this is that I could be better about realising and remembering that the life that I want is one that I can start having now. I won’t be giving up work anytime soon, and I don’t really see land in our immediate future, but everything else is completely possible. I think that I tend to see some of these activities as occasional practice for some glorious future life that will come when I have the land and the house (and presumably the job that will support both of these things). What I should be seeing them as are ways of living the life that I want as much as I can right now.  Are you living the life that you want right now, or are there changes that you can make to get a bit closer?  I’ve decided that it’s high time I start living up to the lyrics from which I took my blog title and remember that there’s not really much point in not doing what I can now, and living the life that I want in every moment that I can.

2 thoughts on “If not now, then when?

  1. Hi–I haven’t been to your blog for a while, and it’s nice to be back! I absolutely share your thoughts here. The great thing about academic life is that every once in a while, I have a sunny morning like this one, where I have time to tend to the chickens, go for a walk, and have a cup of tea BEFORE I start marking. I catch myself thinking, “man, I wish this was my life!” IE, I wish this was all I had to do with my time, wish I could do this every day. Then I realize, this IS my life! After all, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, right at this very moment. What more could I want?!

    • If nothing else, I really do like the flexibility of academic life (so long as I don’t run into the trap of putting this off too long, which never seems to work out that well). Some days, it’s just nice to get in a bit of a bike ride and a visit to the bookstore before anything else. Really, it’s lovely to be able to move things around so the things I really want to do fit in – I just have to remember that I can make that happen if I want or need to, and that it’s important to try to get in all of the things that I want to do.

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