Yuck

That's the only way to describe today's weather. Cold, sleet, wet. I guess it is an Alberta clipper that is coming through. Nothing to do but stay inside and putz around.

So, I dug through some boxes in the garage, hoping to sort out some of the accumulated stuff. Got stuck reading old journals from my college years in the mid-1980s. Boy, I wouldn't go through that time of life again.

I was too young to take proper advantage of college. I couldn't decide upon a major because every one of them felt wrong. I couldn't decide upon a career for fear that committing to one would swallow me up in its minutea.

People grated one me more than they should have. I was in the dormitory, and quarters were a bit tight. I was used to absolute quiet, and the dorm was anything but quiet. I wasn't much of a partier, so that didn't appeal. I kept thinking that there was, somewhere, an ideal group of people with whom I could converse with perfect ease. Where were they? I imagined they hung out in a coffee shop in Manhattan.

Now I know such a group doesn't exist. You take people in bits and pieces, emphasizing the good bits and overlooking the bad bits, and in that way you can gain the necessary social sustenance.

If you keep searching for the ideal situation, you will never find it. The trick is to make your present situation as ideal as possible. However, in college, I was still paralyzed by the fear that every possible career, every friendship, every bold new direction would define me for good. As a result, I committed to nothing.

That fear overcame me the day I signed the papers to take over the nursery. Now I am a nurseryman, I thought. I won't be anything else but a nurseryman. I will be swallowed whole by the nursery and will spend my days weeding tree rows and fixing stoves. I will hang out with other nurserymen and talk about trees.

Well, the opposite was true. Committing to the business was liberating. I have been free to write, to play music, to teach, to travel, to do all the things I wanted to do during college but didn't dare.

If I would have had to depend upon writing for a living, it would never have been any fun. I would have been scared to say what I thought for fear of losing my livelihood. If I had to teach for a living, teaching wouldn't be nearly as fun. I would have been so consumed by advancing my career that I wouldn't have been able to relax and enjoy the students.

So, I finally learned a vital lesson: To commit is liberating, not imprisoning. Yes, you must choose carefully what you commit to, but it really isn't a life or death decision. Just get busy on what's in front of you and the rest will take care of itself.

Now, why was that so difficult?