We have this idea that there is a perfect time to do everything and that the key to doing the things we want to do in life is to wait for that perfect time when all the stars are aligned and then everything will be wonderful. I thought that way for a long time about having kids. I knew I wanted children, but after spending a lot of time with friends who had kids and were exhausted and their marriages frayed, I kept putting off having kids, thinking something would magically happen and I would be ready. In fact, what happened was that I turned 36 and thought, “If we don’t jump in now, we’re going to miss our window.” I’m so glad we did take the leap because we have two amazing kids. I was scared jumping into something so permanent, but I knew that it was now or never and I chose now. But how many people feel that sense of urgency with their other dreams? How many of us wake up and decide that we have to act now or it’s never going to happen? The fact is, there will always be some impediment: maybe you don’t have enough money, or your boyfriend just dumped you, or your child is going through teething, or you just moved, or you have health issues, or your family doesn’t approve, or you don’t know what you’re doing.
What I’ve come to realize is that there is literally no perfect time, and most times are very imperfect as a choice. Right now my daughter has a broken finger that is not healing, my son has the flu, my husband is overwhelmed by work and badly needs a haircut, and I have a sore throat and feel guilty I’m not spending time with my sick child (who just wants to be on his iPad anyway because he feels so lousy.) But my dream is to get my writing and coaching out more fully into the world, as well as relaunch my performing career. I have some important deadlines, so I am at my desk working. Have I washed my hair? No. Have I been to church much in the past few months? Um nope. Are dinners starting to look strange again, because they consist of odds and sods from the fridge? Yes. But I feel alive in a way that I would not have if I hadn’t insisted that NOW is the time to commit 1,000% to work that matters to me, even if I drop some balls. Now is not the time to rearrange my spices or spends hours on Facebook or offer to volunteer for something. Just as going to Target is, what my husband calls, “death by 1,000 paper cuts,” since all those cheap items add up to A LOT at the register, all of the little things we do on our “to do” lists add up to a whole lot of nothing unless we’re careful.
It helps me to remember that Mozart wrote beautiful music while mostly broke, and he didn’t wait to get all of his finances in order to compose. Beethoven wrote while deaf, and he didn’t wait for a cure to get going. He sawed the legs off his piano to hear the floor vibrations. Louisa May Alcott didn’t wait until she recovered from mercury poisoning or had found a suitable husband in order to write. Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t wait until she was pretty or had others’ approval before she became one of the greatest stateswomen of our time. And, great artists ranging from Alvin Ailey to Jackson Pollack to Nina Simone to Frank Sinatra all had bi-polar disorder. But they did their art anyway and the world benefitted from their genius. Instead of hiding, they did what Carrie Fisher advised: “Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”
The fact is, someday when we die, are people going to comment on how organized your desk was or how detailed your packing lists were? Or, are they going to remember that your face lit up when you saw your kids and that you took that trip to travel the world and that you started that business and wrote that book and got back onstage and sang? To find your world stage, remember that the time is now, even though nothing is ever perfect about right now. Grab this moment anyway, in all of its messy imperfection, and don’t let go. This is your chance to make your mark. Now go do it.