Remembering What’s Really Important
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our day to day work and family lives. Add to that our writing and publishing goals, and life gets busy in a hurry. Our focus often shifts from what we have to what we want, what we hope for, what we wish for.
Today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11 and it’s the day after Hurricane Irma slammed into my home state. To say I’m a bit reflective would be an understatement.
Sixteen years ago…
September 11, 2001 is one of the first dates in my life where I can say, “I remember where I was…” I was a college senior, driving from my my apartment to work in the college bookstore. On the radio, deejays talked about planes flying into buildings in New York. It had to be a joke. How could that be real?
As I walked into the student center, televisions blared the news. An airplane had just flown into one of the Twin Towers. I stood in horrified amazement and watched the second one crash into the other. Tears streamed down my face as I watched the collapse of the buildings, imagining the horror of the people inside.
Classes were canceled for the day. Everyone was asked to come to the chapel for an assembly of sorts. Somber silence descended across campus. No one knew what to say or do. It would become a defining moment for a generation.
And now today…
I’m sitting in my mom’s kitchen, two states away from Florida, watching my hometown local news on an iPad. Oh, how the world has changed since I was a kid living through Florida and later south Mississippi hurricanes. We’re connected now more than ever. Hurricane Irma has made her way through my home. Neighbors assure us everything seems fine from the outside although no one has power right now.
Getting me to agree to evacuate wasn’t easy. I’d never done it before and wasn’t sure I wanted to start now. Until I thought about my work – without power, we’d have no internet and no way to work which meant no money at the end of the month. Whatever my motivation, John Brownstone was glad to get me out of the house and down the road.
Goals are good…until they aren’t
The fact that my own work propelled me out of a storm zone might negate what I’m about to say, but it’s a reminder most of us need. Our writing goals, our desire to be published, and the desperate feeling of wanting to quit the crappy day job – none of those things are more important than our families, our lives, our mental health. That overwhelming need to write and make money from it – even when it feels impossible – can be a driving force for many of us. But some things are still more important.
I’ve used my professional goals to change my life. But I’ve also let those goals get in the way of taking care of myself. And I’ve also used those goals as a cudgel to beat myself with. I still do…
The Smutlancer podcast still isn’t ready. I’m a failure.
I haven’t added all the new features to the website. I’m a slacker.
That’s just my mind lying to me. Think of the thoughts that invade your brain when you don’t pitch a site, finish a blog post, or submit your writing somewhere. While it’s important to work hard and have goals, it’s more important to practice forgiveness and focus on what’s most important. In times like these, some of those super-important goals pale in comparison. That’s okay, too.
Today is a day of reflection for me. I still have to work if I want to get paid. My goals don’t go away just because I’m a little nicer to myself. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to focus on what’s most important right now. My family is whole. My house is still standing (thankfully). I’m one of the lucky ones, and I know it. Right now, I think that’s what I’ll focus on. I can get back to work on those extra goals later.