That “Friday Feeling” – FANTASIES

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you are all having a great day and a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world! The weather here is beautiful today – it is certainly a gorgeous early fall day … but I know the weather isn’t quite as beautiful everywhere right now and my prayers are with everyone who is struggling with the severe weather along the Eastern seaboard.

At any rate, since it is Friday and I do try to stick with the “alliteration theme,” I thought today would be a good day to talk about “fantasies” – and no, I am not talking dirty (at least not right now!). Every day when I wake up I take my morning meds, get my compression “gear” on, put on my back brace, do my whole “dental” routine, &c. &c., and then take a walk – as I have told many people in person, I walk as early as I can so that I CAN walk for the rest of the day. I walk a lot in general – right now I average about 7-8 miles a day (I also have a saying – “There is no better way to show gratitude for the fact that you CAN walk than by walking.” It is very true because there have been times in my life during which walking has been very difficult if not impossible and I know many people with severe Behçet’s who cannot walk – my heart and my prayers go out to all of you as well) – and during my walks, I frequently use the time to think, often about what I am going to write here (and elsewhere) – and about my life and “life” in general. This morning I was thinking about how this beautiful early fall weather reminded me of the weather I experienced when I traveled to northern Scotland; this led me to thinking about traveling in general and how I wish I could travel to Japan right now and how I wish I could just be fluent in Japanese RIGHT NOW and that I really should somehow set my mind to just DOING IT. All of this thinking about travel got me to thinking about studying and about doing things that seem like “fantasies.” Traveling to Japan and speaking the language well enough to really EXPERIENCE Japan; going to two shows that are coming up this fall/winter that I really want to be able to attend; going back and learning basic calculus and biology, &c. &.c These might not be things that are on your list of “fantasies:” I’m quite sure there are things on your “fantasies” list that are not on mine! At any rate, I was just thinking of all the things that I really WANT TO DO in my life that are totally achievable if I put my mind to doing them – and I have made something of a promise with myself – that is, essentially, just to WRITE THE THINGS DOWN I WANT TO DO AND TO START BLOODY DOING THEM!

This all, of course, goes back to that thing I talk about so frequently here – the difference between action and inaction. Just starting to make a list of the things you think are just “fantasies” constitutes a HUGE action – you are essentially committing yourself to the IDEA of doing certain things – and doing necessarily implies action. There is an interesting discrepancy I have noticed that seems particularly prevalent among “us” Americans (and some others, perhaps the “Japanese,” &c.) – that is, “we” tend to be so caught up in this idea of working working working and accomplishing everything else we have been told are points to “check off” our lifetime’s “to-do” list that we seem to have no “free time.” People are busy with their careers; people are busy with taking care of their kids; people are busy just sitting around watching TV all day. The truth of the matter is that most of us ARE busy in one way or another.

*Slight tangent: I know the idea that those of us with chronic illness are incredibly busy is a particularly difficult one for those who are NOT chronically ill to understand. To put it in “quantitative” terms, i.e., terms that do not include how poorly we FEEL most of the time, the “average” person with chronic illness has to spend hours a day taking medications; he or she has to see doctors or go to hospitals / infusion centers / &c. MULTIPLE times a WEEK. Making the right kinds of nutritious foods is incredibly time-consuming; having even just to shower or brush your hair or teeth takes much longer than it does for an “average, healthy” person – just not being able to bend or twist or use one arm to its full capacity makes my showers last about 2x as long as normal and these showers COMPLETELY DEPLETE me of any energy I might have had before I took a shower. I spend about 6 hours a week now just doing sub-cutaneous shots and infusions. People with chronic illnesses have to pick up medications and spend hours on the phone with doctors and pharmacies and mail order pharmacies; we spend COUNTLESS HOURS fighting on the phone with insurance companies…. This list could go on and on and on but the truth of the matter is that those of us with SEVERE chronic illness RARELY have just “free time;” I know I personally spend somewhere between the equivalent of a part-time job and a full-time job every week just on my “health care.” The easiest way for me to phrase it all is to say that having severe chronic illness is like having to go to a full-time job while having the flu and HAVING TO PAY FOR IT rather than getting paid.*

However, despite whatever “business” any of us faces, there IS time that we can carve out for ourselves. If my math is correct, even on “work” days, there SHOULD be about an hour a day a person can have to himself or herself (that INCLUDES taking care of kids – and hey, why not involve your kids in your “fantasies?” Or help them live out their own – which, in turn, gives you a little bit more “free time?”) – there is, hypothetically, at least, more “free time” on weekends. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, you can start working on your “fantasies” list. 15 minutes a day for a year comes out to almost 4 ENTIRE DAYS (that’s 4 x 24 hours) of “free time” (again, if I did my math correctly!). That is certainly enough time to start to write a book or to brush up on a particular subject or language or start learning a new one; if you shift that time onto one day a week you have a couple of hours to work with to take a lesson or start a new hobby or sport, &c. And honestly, most of “us” (INCLUDING those of us with chronic illness whose “free time” is not only limited by “musts” but by feeling absolutely awful, exhausted, ^/v ill) have a little more “free time” than just 15 minutes a day.

It’s important to make your fantasies more than fantasies. The ACTION of writing them down does help to get the ball rolling, but you really do need to set your mind to the ACTION OF ACTION – even if you have more than 15 minutes a day of free time, play around with 15 minutes at first and see where it takes you. How many kanji can one learn in 15 minutes with continual practice and utilization of those characters? I’d be willing to bet you could learn enough kanji in 15 minutes a day over the course of a year to be able to read at a fairly high level of “proficiency” if you were to go to Japan. One might not be able to play a full Beethoven sonata after only one year of piano study of 15 minutes a day, but without doubt you could learn PART of one (I know this because I have taught students who have absolutely NO musical background this very thing). If you carry that into longer periods of time like 30 minutes a day and into longer “frames” of time like 3 years, &c., you could start to check quite a few things off your “fantasies” list.

To me, life is all about 1. leaving a positive mark on the world (often by helping those who are struggling with the things you have struggled with and have overcome), and 2. having as much of a good time as possible in the process. As I have mentioned here before, I am far from a “positivist” as “positivism” is “defined” within the “New Age” sort of movement going on right now … but I DO believe that action is everything and I DO believe that although happiness and “fun” might not be the “goals” in life, they are a crucial aspect of living a FULFILLING life. And in order to “be happy” and “have fun,” you really have to start to tackle those things on your “fantasies” list. Doing new things and learning new things, &c., is not just for kids … it doesn’t end once you have graduated college or graduate school and established your career, &c. I think those of us in “workaholic” countries (as mentioned above) tend not only to be TAUGHT to believe that we just “don’t have ENOUGH time” but that once we have finished our education and settled down with someone we “love” and have had kids, everything else just kind of goes on “repeat” until retirement or death. This ties in with my previous post about the majority of “life-defining” moments happening before the age of 35. WE GOTTA GET RID OF THAT AWFUL MINDSET! There is no reason we cannot continue to learn and do new things on a regular basis – even with kids, as I mentioned above! I was very fortunate to have grown up in a family that encouraged “us kids” to TRY any activity we wanted to try; to travel when we could; to go out and do new things and meet new people, &c., and to do so with the blessing of and assistance from our parents. We were fortunate that our parents never shipped us off to camp or sent us away so they didn’t have to deal with us for a little while – I know I often looked forward to the start of the school year but my parents didn’t because it just meant LESS TIME WITH US. It is actually saddening to me to think that most parents ARE NOT that way – that I kind of had an “exceptional” experience “growing up” and that for me to say that we were allowed to explore our interests constitutes being extremely “fortunate.” I will end this tangential rant just by saying that if you do have kids, please let them be themselves – if they want to take French lessons or learn how to play the oboe, find them a teacher! Travel with them to as many places as you can for as long as you can – trust me when I say that “window” of kids loving those long vacations in faraway places with their parents is very small. If there is a way for your kids to pursue their interests, let them do so – and take the time during which they are taking lessons, &c., to pursue your own interests – and this goes both ways because if your kids see you doing what you want to do and chasing your dreams and “fantasies,” they will be that much more inspired to do the same.

So for now, just write down all the things you “fantasize” about doing. Make a list and hang it in your office or by your computer or on the wall across from your bed – somewhere you see it regularly. And without any necessary “order,” start working on those things, even 15 minutes at a time. I can almost guarantee that if the thing you are doing is a “fantasy,” you will find yourself in that state of unawareness of time and you’ll look up and find that hours have passed. WHAT I DO NOT WANT YOU TO DO is to think about why you HAVEN’T done the things you want to do – DO NOT CONTEMPLATE WHY YOU HAVE PROCRASTINATED OR NOT DONE THESE THINGS FOR SO LONG. Even if you think that finding whatever might have held you back in the past might be the key to allowing you to do what you want to do in the now and in the future, there really is only one way to do it – and that is TO JUST DO IT! There is no ultimate purpose in thinking about WHY you haven’t done something in the past (unless doing so helps you “recover” psychologically in some way, &c.) – the only way to get past it is to take action, to move on from the “default state” of failure. And I promise you will have fun just in starting to do whatever it is you want to do.

At any rate! I hope that provided some “motivation” for yinz on this early fall day! I have quite a long “fantasies” list – perhaps I will post it here! I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Thank you for taking the time to read this and I really hope you all start doing some of things you have always wanted to do (and in doing so act as “inspirational” to others, whether those others are your kids or friends or just people you happen to meet!) and you have an absolute blast doing them! And PLEASE remember, my heart is ALWAYS with YOU!

❤ Always, Beth

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