The tragedy of “I will”

Last night, At and I took a break from WoW to watch a movie instead. We’ve had a few pile up on us lately and had been putting them off long enough that it was getting ridiculous. Part of the reason for deferring them was that neither of us were sure we wanted to watch either of the ones that ended up at the top of our queue. So on Sunday we watched Slumdog Millionaire – which I still don’t understand the buzz over – and last night we watched most of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

That’s a really long movie. And it has Brad Pitt. Yuck.

Still, despite it having the Pitt in it, I was intrigued enough to keep watching it past the 20 minute mark – that’s how long any movie has to grab my attention before I turn it off if it’s not entertaining me in any discernible fashion.

There’s this bit when he is in Russia, getting to know the character played by Tilda Swinton and she tells him how she tried to swim the English channel, only to give up after an ungodly number of hours, about two miles from shore. I’m totally paraphrasing here, but she ended the story with something like, “Everyone asked me if I would try again and I said, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ But I never did. I’ve been waiting my whole life, thinking I would do something, but I never have.”

That resonated with me, because so often lately, I’ve found myself in the same place of waiting, thinking I will do something, and then never doing it. I’m full of excuses for why I am not currently doing the things I wish to be doing, too.

I will finish up my university studies – just not here at an engineering school with weak History and English departments.

I will lose some weight – just not when it’s so unbearably hot and humid/frakkin’ cold outside. Buy a gym membership? No – perhaps I’ll just wait until I live somewhere nice and can go hiking every weekend. I’ll totally go hiking every weekend. And not work a desk job, because that’s what killing me here.

I will write this novel knocking around in my head and I will try to get it published – just not right now because I’m so stressed out by my job that when I get home all I want to do is not think for a few hours. Time just keeps getting away from me. I intend to write. No really.

It’s pathetic and I don’t like it. I’m ashamed to confess it because now I sound like such an abject loser. A fat abject loser.

Later on in the movie, Pitt’s character sees Swinton’s character on television. At the age of 68, she has at last swum the English Channel. I suppose we’re meant to feel heartened by that –  to take away the message that you are never too old to follow your dreams.  And while that’s true, I frankly don’t want to live most or all of my life feeling unfulfilled.

I suppose that I’ve known all along that a person has to make the best of their current situation – to not let the fact that they’re not in an ideal place or at an ideal time in their lives keep them from living life in such a way that they are actively pursuing their goals and dreams. Knew it, but didn’t really internalize it.

I told At last night that I was tired of saying “I will” and then not doing anything that wasn’t totally halfhearted. I’m trying to erase all the “I will’s” and “I am going to’s” from my way of thinking. WoW will probably take more of a backseat to everything else in the coming weeks, and it’s a change I welcome. The guild will survive without my being there nearly every night.

And I will survive better, away from this half-life of incompletion.


The tragedy of “I will” — 15 Comments

  1. To be honest I think we are all at stages in our lives at times when we feel exactly like that and maybe that’s a sort of comfort. it surely resonates with me, but I think it’s part of the human condition. and maybe it’s not so much only about removing the ‘I will and going to’, but also about picking smaller and more realistic goals for ourselves. ones that we are capable to achieve and make us feel good and motivated in the process.
    so maybe don’t talk about the novel you will publish, but rather say “I am going to write/blog about something at least 2-3 times a week”. don’t say “I will lose all my extra weight”, but say “I will take at least 2 walks per weekend because its good for me”. I don’t think we should ever give up on our dreams, but start with small steps you can be proud of.

    • Yes, I am trying to focus on the achievable. So it’s walking every day at lunch (weather permitting) and writing 3000-5000 words a week. Now I need to work on not procrastinating…

  2. /agrees with Syl

    As a race of people the human condition comes in stages and cycles. At 4 months we learn to crawl, at 9 months we learn to walk at 18 months we learn to share our toys., at two years we learn we aren’t the center of our parents universe when they give us a brother or sister…

    At this stage in your cycle you’re starting to look at the things you didn’t do and those could’a, would’a should’a. I just means you’re growing and becoming who you really are. Unfortunately it isn’t like microwavable foods, it takes time to learn the lessons we’re destined to learn. It’s just a cycle and one that you’ll get through.

    I’m sure there’s more I’m supposed to say…working and trying to do this…crazy. If you need face to face – someone to talk to…Jinx is available.

  3. That little “coulda-woulda-shoulda” voice has been my bane for so many years – but just once, it paid off, when I asked myself “do I really want to look back in twenty years and wonder what MIGHT have happened?” and sent a long, somewhat hideously embarrassing email to the man who a year and a bit later would become my husband.

    And when I realized I’d gone a year without doing any effort toward taking the last two courses I needed for my master’s, and got it done.

    But then there’s the ones – the exercise thing, the diet, the novels, the phonecalls and friendships I let drift off – and they do bug me. Sigh.

  4. All great advice. The only thing I can really add is that there are some things you can change and some things you cannot. If you beat yourself up over the things you cannot change, then you are only going to make yourself unhappy.

    Take for example finishing up college. With any luck you and At will be moving shortly. While you have some idea where you want to go, it is still up in the air a bit, as is the when part. You can’t really start taking classes if you end up moving part-way through the semester.

    Focus on the things you can change. When the situation is different and you can focus on other things, do so at that time.

    • Yeah, there are some things that genuinely aren’t worth trying to do right now due to the hopeful moving thing. Of course, that could very well bite me in the ass if the moving thing doesn’t happen as soon as I would like (which is already the case, ha!).

  5. I can fully understand how you feel, every now and then we end up in those hmm.. I’d say pits.. but let’s change that to pit-stops.. sounds better, doesn’t it? I can feel really disheartened by it sometimes.. I had a good thing going a few years ago, my career was where I wanted it to be, I’d gotten around to writing those novels (I managed to get my “I want to..” to “I have”.. and I did actually finish two novels.. not that I’ve sent them in since or anything.. or even finished proofreading the second.. but well..) anyway.. point being.. everything ground to a halt when I got sick.. and I’m now (it feels like) at the bottom again trying to claw my way up..

    I have a lot of those “I will” or “I should” currently, but not really getting anywhere with any of them. But, on a more positive note.. I am actually getting better, it just sucks when you feel like you should be somewhere you’re not..

    But this got a bit more personal than I intended *lol* Long story short, we all have times when we wish we were elsewhere with our lives/situations – but it can change and we can make that change. It just takes some time and energy :)

  6. So I went to this talk once, and the speaker said that we put up barriers for ourslves. “Oh, I’d like to do x, but I can’t right now because of y.” Their suggestion was to write down a few things you’ve always wanted to do or would like to do, then write down everything you can think of that’s stopping you from doing it. You may find that there really aren’t that many (or any) things stopping you, or that the things that are, can be resolved. It worked for me for when I decided to go live overseas, anyway :) Good luck hun <3

  7. Oddly enough, your last sentence in this post is an “I will” sentence.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m in the same boat than you, I share most of the feelings you described in your post.
    It’s just that, at least for me, it’s hard to change.

    Good luck!

    • Change is difficult, no doubt of it. I think each person has to get to a point where they are willing to make whatever effort it takes to effect the change. I think I have reached that point myself.

  8. Nothing- and I mean nothing- means more to my mental happiness than my gym membership. I can’t urge you enough to get one. Everything in the world feels better when you feel fantastico about your body.

    • Getting in shape is my primary goal. But since I am trying to move cross-country, I can’t see shelling out for a year’s gym membership. Fortunately, I can make use of the local university’s facilities *if I must* – and while they are far from nice, they are at least available.