The Hastening (or is it The Wastening?)

after rain sunset path

There’s only x number of days left! – I can’t wait!

We all know at least one friend who relentlessly counts down to Christmas, posting memes and already finishing not only their Christmas lists but their shopping as well. All for that one day, that one week, one season. Outside of holidays and social media, we have bill deadlines, elections, births of babies, weight loss, things we look forward to being o-v-e-r. We always want to get to the finish line. The goal. The end where everything will be done, finito, accomplished. Hastening, causing things to happen before they normally would, is part of our daily lives.

It is: The Future. The Not-now. The … end of the waiting. (It’s petty to say it’s the hardest part… but well, you know)

Looking forward to things is not all bad –pregnancies end in messy miracles, deadlines come to fruition with achievements realized, elections culminate in new leadership that doesn’t have its head up its ass. Things we look forward to are generally things that have been fostered and nurtured in the time that precedes them.

Except holidays, for me. This hastening drives me crazy. (Okay, crazier. Sha’up) Holidays are merely seen, by most people, as festive but stressful. To some, they’re a nuisance, but to most, they are something to be cherished. For me, they ruin everything – with hastening.

I admit to fantasies of throttling people who start that rolling countdown calendar from the fall of the first leaf until the actual day, sometimes even before Halloween. Why? First, because I don’t celebrate holidays in general, and more specifically, because counting days down until the blessed event (and I say that with no religious connotation whatsoever, just want to avoid the word “fucking”) relegates the days in between now and then to the Less Important Bin.

And I am a person of the Now.

As Christmas lurks on the horizon, some people rush to cross off items from their lists. Yay for consumerism and efficiency. The fervor of anticipation for that single, solitary day that will put all these other days to shame. Granted, since the whole season is supposed to be all about Love, and the whole Christ-thing, I can’t actually hate the whole season. I try not to hate, but I take umbrage (recent affection for this word) with the anticipation that makes people neglect two things: the Here and the Now.

Let me expand this to include things less seasonal than holidays – let’s say, life goals. The “one day I’ll” ‘s as well. Days whiz by, we get lost in tedium, maybe it just seems easier to concentrate on a point far off into the future – less pressure! So, we make the only thing that matters the goal, that one day, that one time, that one “not now, but Then.” The Then that seemingly makes all other Nows seem somewhat … obsolete.

The day, the deadline, the goal. When one thinks the goal is the final destination, what makes it all worthwhile, I think they’ve got in all wrong. Backwards. The goal, that is. To me, the goal is everything you do to get to the supposed goal. The way. The stones along the path. The sunsets you see when you’re kicking those stones and the flowers you see to the side of the path and the dog you see tromping through those flowers.

Did I lose you?

Personal example time. Three years ago, I set a goal, to write a book and get it published. Nobody, save for a few fortunates who possess means and avenues not available to us normal folks, or for those who self-publish, has any idea that writing a book worth traditionally publishing is a lot harder than it seems. I thought a month or two of hard writing would do the trick. And wow, what I turned out during those long happy days of blissful ecriture was sad, sad drivel. Not even vomit of the keyboard, but drool that had no business (and not a shot in hell of) being published by any publishing company who, you know, values its integrity.

But the lessons I’ve learned on the way to fixing, revising, editing, re-re-rewriting, the people I’ve met, befriended, and aided in their own journeys along the way, and the self-discovery and learning I’ve become addicted to, that’s what the goal of publishing a novel has become to me. Not an end goal, but the gift of a million Nows on the way to a goal that is no longer my primary one. Now, and many Nows since and forthcoming, are my goal. The learning. The anticipation. The knowledge that I am working towards something that is itself fulfilling, and tasty in its own way. The nibbles. The morsels. The failures that will inevitably point me in the right direction despite seeming like the wrong one at the time.

My goal has morphed into Forever Reaching My Goal. It’s a beautiful thing that I realized about six months in, when I asked the Great Universe for guidance. Enjoy the ride, it said, for that is the real treasure. The discoveries, the unveiling, the pitfalls, the humbling of several writing contests where I failed to impress, and the few where I did. The praise of a few friends who were kind enough to tell me how good (or how bad) my writing was (and oh, God, I’m sorry you’ve had to read the drivel I asked you to read – but I promise, I’ve become a far better writer than I used to be!) and for the praise I know I will receive once that publisher says yes to what I’m still perfecting at this moment.

Because the goal, literally, my intent to be published by a real company, is already happening. I set my intention, and in the way that Time is all Now and All at Once, at the same time, I’ve already been published. So, all this “time” in between then and now, is The Perfection. My learning, my yearning, my practicing my words and scrapping them just as much, the plot twists, the characterization, the climax and the denouement of my story.

Which brings me back to the Hastening. I understand people want to get to that special day. The birth of their child, the outcome of the election, the day they and friends and family can rip open presents, but to me, the joy is often missed by sight of the Goal.

So, soften your focus. Keep that goal in sight, of course, but see it as something that is going to happen regardless, and make each day your goal instead. Like exercise plans for weight loss, a job promotion, graduation – they are all great in concept but even more wonderful to work for. Celebrate that, the million tiny achievements in the everyday – they are all more beautiful than you can imagine because they are singularly fleeting but in the aggregate, monumental.

Save the hastening for things like the wish that your dental exam would go by faster – the hoping that filing your taxes would be less complicated – that the jerk in front of you would stop driving like his thumb’s up his ass and the dick behind you would stop riding your ass. Hasten small things, but not days. Not entire days. Do something small, every day, that makes you cherish it somehow. Then let it go. But acknowledge it for its importance, and not just as some throwaway in the pursuit of something bigger than will one day, just like this one, become obsolete.

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I Dig the Littlest of Things by Get Set Go