Life is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Other Plans

I’ve been busy for the last nine years.  I’ve been getting married and having kids and going to school and starting new careers and going grocery shopping and balancing my checkbook and waiting in customer service queue and making lunches and vacuuming up all the dog hair and paying my library fines.  There have been breathtaking moments of awe, like the early March afternoon I walked out of UT Hospital with my brand-new husband and my brand-new babies, blinking into the sunlight and wondering how the world could be so amazing and so terrifying at the same time.  But mostly there have been mundane moments of just trying to get by, like the thousands of times I schlepped those same two babies to and from school or daycare, often one homework assignment or one permission slip or one snack or one jacket short and almost always a few minutes later than I had planned to be.  Mostly, I just take care of stuff and try to get a little bit ahead so that I can relax or something, but I usually take that extra time to get a little bit more ahead on the same old shit that I’ve been getting ahead on so I could conceivably relax.

Sometimes, though, I use that time to dream about escaping the everyday grind.  I think about the land we bought several years ago on a coastal South Carolina island accessible only by ferry and home to less than 300 people.  I think about picking up and moving there and unplugging so that we could see the awe in the everyday.  But I know that life with a lowercase “L” will follow me there, that lunches will still have to be made, that groceries will still need to be schlepped, that my checkbook will still need to be balanced, and that the dogs will still shed all over the carpet.  And in those moments, I don’t quite know what to do.

David Foster Wallace answered that question for me today.  As I said, I’ve been busy, and I’m not as familiar with his work as I should be (hell, I’m not even familiar with “Gossip Girl”), but I did take the time to sit down and read his 2005 Kenyon College Commencement address today, and it reminded me that life is indeed what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  What else is there to do but live it with a capital “L?”  I’m going to try, anyway, and I’m going to come back to his words when I find myself forgetting about “life BEFORE death.”  I have always known that I would never be the smartest or the prettiest or the wealthiest because those are games no one can win, but any of us – even I – has a real shot at being the happiest and the most content, especially since so few of us are even giving it a try.

I’m in.


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7 Responses to “Life is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Other Plans”

  1. dorothyzbornak Says:

    Wise words..definitely something to think about for me.

  2. nadarine Says:

    I raise my glass to you, MBB. (and for what it’s worth, I think you’re most certainly in the running for Prettiest.)

  3. trixiefromtoronto Says:

    But you ARE the prettiest!

  4. badenbaden Says:

    This was lovely. Thank you.

  5. sigourneyfever Says:

    This was so great. And I love that Kenyon commencement speech, too. I’ve sent it around to a few people over the past few weeks. And the tributes and memories of DFW at McSweeney’s are heartbreaking and lovely, as well.

  6. AGreenEyeDevil Says:

    Wise words, the essence of life is the here-and-now!

  7. Skinny Bone Jones Says:

    Well, thank heavens I’m not the only one, love.

    Yes, always one something short and a few minutes too late. Always. I don’t give a damn about being perfect or doing everything to a T all the time, I just want my minutes to be as full as possible. If that means making a stop on the way home to buy milk magical, then so be it!

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