On Tuesday mornings, I take a yoga class downtown. And, if I get myself ready and out the door on time, I can do the banking on the way.
This past Tuesday as I was walking through my neighbourhood, checking my watch, I realized I’d left it just a little too late to do that comfortably.
If I get to class at the right time, I can roll my mat out in my favourite corner, set out my water bottle and then lie down in legs up the wall pose for a few relaxing minutes before the class actually starts. If I don’t leave myself this time, I’m squeezing in wherever I can find a space and missing out on that blissful relaxation.
Looking at my watch one last time, I changed course and headed straight for the yoga studio.
And, maybe it was because I was heading for yoga class, or maybe what I write on this blog is actually starting to sink in, but before I could properly berate myself for leaving so late, I smiled, remembering why I had lingered at home….
Ruffles fits in really well to our odd schedule. He’s good on his own for hours at a time. But when we are all at home together, he rounds us up, letting us know it is time for us to pet and praise him. Which we do, lavishly.
And, when he doesn’t have to be in the bakery, Alan likes to laze in bed with me, chatting and checking messages, having a coffee and just enjoying each other’s company. And so we stretch that time out as long as we possibly can.
And I realized, on that walk to yoga class, that I will remember those quiet, happy moments at home long after I’ve completely forgotten whose job it was to do the banking in this particular stretch of our lives.
So why are we drawn to productivity hacks? Why do we call ourselves lazy for taking an extra five minutes with our loved ones when we could be crossing yet another item off our endless to do lists? Why do we call time spent on Facebook or playing video games or napping wasted time if we enjoy doing those things?
You see things about productivity and getting things done and the sacred bucket list and you’re told that one day you will be sooooo glad you made the effort. Because you don’t want to look back on your life and only wish you had.
It’s like we have this belief that one of these days our Present Self will come face to face with our Future Self and Future Self is going to be some pissed and demand a reckoning. Why didn’t we work harder? Make more money? Lose those ten or twenty pounds when we had the chance? Sign up for that ultramarathon in Bali? Why???
It sounds like a really bad science-fiction movie.
I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but that’s not how it actually works. We will never meet Future Self. We will just be ourselves, a few years down the road. And the things that don’t interest us enough now to be bothered to do anything about them likely won’t interest us then. Or they will and when that interest stirs in us, that will be the time to start doing something about it.
Which is why I’m heading out the door to yoga class on Tuesday mornings now. After years of hearing how great yoga is and all the amazing things it can do for you and thinking ‘meh,’ a good friend of mine took it up and I met a really cool teacher, so now I go to class. But as the mythical Future Self of the person I used to be, I’m not angry at that Past Self for not forcing herself to take something up in service to me. What if she had forced herself to take class after class after class and practised for hours on end and we never developed an actual interest in it? Think of all the snuggle time we would have wasted.
And I think of some of the things Past Self quit or opted out of or just never signed up for and they’re all, actually, fine. I dropped out of university to marry Alan and I was told over and over again that I would regret it (the dropping out part. Only a few people thought I might regret marrying him). I never have (either part). And it’s not just because when you’re self-employed no one cares if you have a degree or not. I’ve been able to talk my way into actual jobs that should have required a degree, but I managed to dazzle them with my mad skills to the point where no one thought to ask.
When Alan and I decided to stop trying to have children a friend wondered if I wasn’t worried that I might one day regret it. She admitted that at least some of the reason she had had the children that she did was because she was afraid of waking up some day in her eighties and wondering why she hadn’t. And I thought, well, eighty is a really long way off and might not even happen and if you promise now to forgive yourself when you get there, isn’t there at least a chance it’ll be OK? How much of a tyrant do you expect to be to yourself when you get old? And as the years passed, I honestly haven’t regretted that decision. I was slightly worried that when my siblings moved on from parenthood to grandparenthood that might reopen old wounds. But my sister became a Nana a few years back and it made me giggle with delight for her, with no feeling of wishing it could be me.
Future Self does not exist and will not spring into being. What we’re fearing is the teachers and parents and neighbours that we never wanted to listen to the first time around. And now that we’re grown-ups, we don’t have to.