“Someday is Today”, Thank You Matthew Dicks
Time matters. But do we really use it well?
6:28pm. I'm in my living room with a fully packed car. It is stuffed to the limit and sitting in the garage. I packed for 2 dogs, 2 people, Christmas gifts, 2 full work setups, and exercise gear.
All the thermostats are turned to 58 to save on our bill. The right lights are left on, so it looks like someone is home, casting me in dramatic shadows as I sit on the couch in my heaviest winter jacket and snow boots.
The antsy dogs are all leashed up and baffled that they are still inside. The tv is on but I am really watching the minutes tick past the 30-minute mark when he said he would be home.
6:30. I planned the entire evening around 6:30.
Most nights when he is late, I barely notice. At most it means a cold dinner. But on that night, I could not stop spinning over the cascading effect of lateness.
In reality, the lateness wasn't anything that could not be worked around. But in that moment my mind was a dark whirlpool of anxious thoughts crashing into each other. Each one pushing me closer and closer to the center of irrational stress that feels like a fight or flight situation - a real first world inconvenience.
6:45. Do I call him to see where he is or do I just wait until he tells me when his new arrival time will be?
What is him being late really impacting?
As my cortisol spikes, I think about bedtimes, getting 8 hours of sleep, getting up early for a long day of work tomorrow, unpacking when we arrive, keeping those up later who are waiting for us, having to choose between exercise or sleep before my workday tomorrow, and a never-ending stream of unnecessary to dos and tasks that could be impacted but probably won't.
Anxiety and stress are funny things. They are meant to help us. Biologically, cortisol spikes in our system to help us deal with threats. Our heightened senses let us react quickly and without thinking. We needed this hundreds of years ago when humans were in the wild and had many natural predators. We had to have quick reflexes and a keen sense of awareness to react to all of the things that wanted to kill us. Those traits developed over thousands of years, and we still have them today.
But what does this look like when there’s no life-threatening situation? There’s no mountain lion creeping toward us through the brush. There’s no angry bear barreling toward us, determined to get one last set of calories in before the winter hibernation.
Cortisol can be great. It helps us achieve and succeed. It helps us push our limits. In extreme cases it keeps us safe.
What happens when life is easy? Our biology does not change.
6:57. Instead, we seem to invent new stressors for ourselves to react to. Like schedules, lateness, others' perceptions, worse yet, others' opinions, dirt on the floor, dishes in the sink, the sound of someone chewing, being interrupted while texting, having to take the trash out, a dog's dirty paws on the sofa, etc. etc. There are so many meaningless moments that we let ourselves get worked up over. And for what benefit?
7:05. As I am sitting on that sofa burning a few extra calories each minute with how fast my foot and fingers are tapping as I pretend to watch the tv, I think about what I am going to say when he walks in.
7:15. Am I upset or is it fine? Is this logical or rational in any way? What if he has a very reasonable answer? Is it worth the added stress of a tense conversation? I know the answers to all these questions but still they keep circling in my mind.
7:22. As I am having all kinds of conversations with myself in my own head and running through scenarios of how this could go, the kitchen is illuminated by headlights. He pulls into the garage.
7:25. I greet him with a hint of an attitude and ask how his day was and if everything is okay. In that moment I mean it in both ways it can sound. Caring and sarcastically.
He is absolutely drained. “The deposition ran long. How much time do I have before we have to leave?”. And then I feel the switch flip. My annoyance and anxiety are replaced with empathy and love. I instantly regret any part of the attitude I had. All I want to do is make him feel better. As he goes up to change, I am left with more time on my hands.
All in, I have found myself with 110 extra minutes before I heard the creak of the back door open and the shuffling of shoes and a jacket. 110 minutes I will never get back and how did I spend it?
Stressed. Anxious. Annoyed. Overthinking.
Doing absolutely nothing of value.
I wasted those 110 minutes. They were a gift and now they are gone. I could have accomplished so much in that time.
I am now more pissed at myself than anything. I need to clear my head. I need a distraction that makes me think about something else. I can feel my cortisol rising again but at a different target. Me.
So I turn on a podcast by a man I have never heard of who is interviewing another man I have never heard of. Lenny something is the podcaster and Matthew Dicks is being interviewed. It was a suggestion I read about from the Morning Brew. It was buried in the bottom of one of their emails. But the title caught my attention. “How to Tell Better Stories”.
I just started making time to read a few newsletters again. I was determined to get back into the habit of knowing the news, learning something new each day, and generally educating myself. So I read every section and most of the words. All the way to the end. It sometimes feels like a questionable way to spend my time. But without that decision, I may have never come across that podcast.
I keep the podcast rolling as we hop in the car and am met with no objections. We ended up listening to that podcast for most of the 2h30m car ride. We spent the rest of the time talking about it.
Many things resonated with me in that podcast that I never expected. And all of them were applicable to the 110 minutes of my evening that I wasted.
A few of the key points I remember very clearly are
A positive attitude is the key to
You have more stories than you think.
Everything can be turned into a story.
Time is your most precious resource.
Matthew Dicks had 2 books I needed to buy and read right away. “Someday is Today” and “Storyworthy”.
That complete waste turned into a life changing moment for me. It led me to the podcast. Which led me to the book “Someday is Today”. Which reminded me how valuable every single second is. Which led me to write this.
Time is a finite resource. I am grateful for every minute I have. So why waste any of them doing or thinking about things that do not matter?
I've always loved writing. But I've been nervous to write. I don't know if I have anything to say. More so, I don't know if I have anything of value to say. I've talked myself out of writing for so many reasons. Many are fear based.
But as I listen to Matthew Dicks talk about how he writes his stories, it starts to click. Am I really going to keep hiding behind fear and excuses?
If someone doesn't like my writing, no problem! This isn't for them.
And really, what is the reason we start anything?
Because we find the reason TO do it and let that win out over all the excuses.
I want to be a better writer. I want to write things people care about reading. I don’t know yet how this will turn out. But I know now that if I find myself with 1 minute or 110 minutes, I will not waste them. I am going to write.
This blog is the result of those extra minutes I find within a day.
It used to be just about travel, but there is so much more to life. So, I'm all in on writing about it!
Someday will be every day. So, I am starting today.
Thank you, Matthew Dicks.