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What Can You Do? -- Writer's Poke #451

I wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer, and I monitored cruise prices daily until they finally hit the sweet spot. Unfortunately, once prices hit the sweet spot, I admitted to myself that whether the cruise cost $899 or $1599, it really didn’t matter. The price might be right, but other variables made it next to impossible for me to leave home for the 2+ plus weeks such a trip would require.

So naturally I was a little depressed, and I allowed myself to stew for a few days. What good is having time off when I’m still not free to utilize it in the manner I would like? What good is having the money to purchase the tickets when I still cannot “afford” to go? I was locked into a “woe is me” frame of mind. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t angry at my situation, but it would be fair to say that I was disappointed. I wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer, and couldn't help feeling that I should be able to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer!

I’ve felt this way before -- this kind of "I've earned it" or "I'm entitled to it" feeling. For example, one of my dreams for the past few years has been to hike the Appalachian Trail. Hiking 2,100 miles would take much more time than 2 weeks, of course. It would most likely take more like 5 months. Even when I had a sabbatical last year, I still could not figure out a legitimate way to leave my household responsibilities behind for five months to make this dream come true.

Chalk it up to being an adult. With adulthood comes responsibilities. I know that. Nevertheless, when you want to do something, the inner kid can quickly forget that being an adult often means curbing, or at least deferring, wants. We all sometimes want what we want when we want it, and even though we understand that we can’t always have it, we may still allow ourselves to dwell in the “Why can’t I have it now?” mindset.

After a few days of letting myself soak in that mindset, I decided a much more productive use of my time would be to focus on what I could do this summer. If I couldn't go to Alaska, I could still travel around Minnesota. I could take short daytrips to places in my immediate region – many of which I have never taken the time to drive to previously. As an added benefit, I could be home every night and sleep in my own bed. I could make plans to go to concerts and plays in the local area. I could catch up on my reading and movie watching. I could even do things around the house that I had been putting off, like staining the deck.

What can you do? That’s where your focus should be, because that's where your control is. Don’t allow yourself to perpetually worry about the things you can’t do when there are plenty of things that you can do. 

"Do not let what you can't do interfere with what you can do." -- John Wooden


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