Giving Permission

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Did you notice?

It’s been 3 weeks since I gave myself 2 weeks to finish On the Road.

I’m full of reasons why it’s taken too long to write about it; but let’s break it down and be real, shall we?

TRUTH: I’m disappointed that I’ve spent 150% of the time I intended to spend on this book, and I’m only 66% of the way through it.

TRUTH: I spent 7 days traveling for work, missing out on my typical train-commute where I spend most of my time reading.

TRUTH: The above line is an excuse.

TRUTH: I’m not disappointed that I opted to spend time yesterday doing a long run instead of reading a book I’m not really into.

Did you see that? My priorities have displayed themselves in my actions. So, as this title suggests, I gave myself permission to break the strict guidelines and give myself an extra week to finish the book. (Is it breaking them if I never held to them? You decide).

The book hasn’t really drawn me in. It hasn’t hooked me or made it impossible to put down. I don’t find myself anxious in the evenings  to pick it up and resume the tale. It fascinates me, and I’m trying to pick apart the pieces that make it so notable and historic, but honestly, I’m disappointed.

At the risk of sounding feminist, I’m finding myself annoyed at the writing of ALL OF THE female characters. While I can get sucked into the adventure and rush of the unexpected, I feel like a little piece of me writes the book off a little more each time I read about another abandoned wife.

Because I absolutely hate failing (it’s a flaw), I’m going to finish this dang book. It’s going against the entire principal of the exercise, but I’m doing it. I’m also giving myself two weeks to finish Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safram Foer. So that’s 1.3 books in 2 weeks, when I only finished .6 book in 3 weeks. This post just got strangely mathematical.

Somewhere above, I tried to make the transition where I come full circle and bring together the title of this post. Long-windedly, I’m giving myself permission to break the rules and adjust as I find my way on this journey. This blog is by no means a guide; it’s a place for me to talk about my journey: what works, what doesn’t, and how I decide what qualifies “working.”

A Summary: Set goals, adjust, and make sure they’re attainable. Make space for the priorities in your life by giving yourself permission to let the less important things go. I can’t do it all, but what I can do is make sure that I’m making space for the most important things that add the most value.

The success rate of Cold Turkey

Let’s be real here, cold turkey has a success rate of about 3% (don’t quote me). My case studies include:

  • New year’s resolutions
  • My attempt at a capsule wardrobe
  • My “write an album in the month of February” goal that I tried for the last 3 years, despite the fact that I can barely write 1 song per year for those other months (sigh)

This blog is totally (hopefully) going to help keep me honest in this journey of removing the crap from my life that keeps me from living the life I want to live – but if I’m setting myself up for success, I need to snap out of the delusion that this is going to happen with the stroke of my keyboard and the camera shutter of my iPhone.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Let’s start small, shall we? The Bookshelf.

I am absolutely not the minority when I say I have a weird unjustified attachment to (the contents of) my bookshelf. I love the feel of a good paperback, the smell of crisp pages, the look of an un-bent spine. I love tangible progress – so I cherish the change in balance from the “unread” to the “read” side of an open book. I’m obsessed with cover art and will buy multiple copies of my favorite books with different covers, collecting different sets of notes in the margins for each time I read it. Sound familiar?

But if we’re sticking to the theme of being real with ourselves, how many of the books on your bookshelf make your heart swoon so strongly as the passion in that descriptive love letter I just penned for the paperback book? Probably not many. I learned this like a smack in the face during my recent move.

One of my bookshelves was sacrificed during the move, which meant that when I unpacked I had to find a new system for organizing them. I had to decide which books might temporarily remain in the cardboard box and which books got to be on display. I quickly learned I could fill a whole shelf of unread books. Some I had only had for a couple months, some I had had for years. Some I had started 3-5 times but could never get through. Why am I holding on to these?!

So in my attempt to have less and do more by getting rid of the things that don’t add value to my life, I’m going to begin by plowing my way through that “unread” shelf that is busting at each end. Each book gets 2 weeks – if it’s not done, I shouldn’t waste any more time (or space) on it. I can accept that it’s not for me and send it on its way. Up first: the classic On the Road by Jack Keuroac himself. See you in two weeks.