What’s Possible Today?

Comments 23

Possibilities word cloud

Marital status aside—my life looks a lot like I thought it would when I was growing up.

I live in the Ohio suburbs. I’m middle class. My child goes to Catholic school now, just like I did.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really know what marriage would look and feel like, so I didn’t spend a great deal of time imagining it.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really understand what separates the financial winners from the losers. And I still don’t. I often feel like a complete failure. But compared to many people (the statistical majority, actually), I’m really doing quite well.

I hold myself to pretty high standards. And maybe that’s not psychologically healthy. But I don’t know how to quit. And I’m not sure I’d want to if I did.

Ask me why I’m 35 and have never been promoted at any of my three jobs since graduating college, and I’ll feed you an excuse: “Well! When you’re a newspaper reporter or copywriter in a corporate environment, there really isn’t much upward mobility!!!”

But the truth is that I’ve never made myself stand out as a leader of others.

Ask me why I lost my last job, and I’ll tell everyone how unlucky I was: “Oh yeah! Back in college, how could we have known what would happen to the newspaper industry!?!? I survived two rounds of corporate layoffs before the economic crunch caught up to me on a third round of cuts, and I was the least-senior person on staff!!!”

As if telling the story that way (which is all true, but all bullshit) makes you think any more of me.

The truth is that I didn’t prove myself to be indispensible to the publication. They knew they could lose me and there would be no financial consequences. There wasn’t enough demand for my writing and I never gave anyone a reason to care.

It’s not the economy’s fault my career is what it is.

It’s my fault.

It’s not the universe spoon-feeding me bad luck that has made me a single 35-year-old who works in a cubicle, leaving this dissatisfied taste in my mouth.

It’s my fault.

A little bit of ignorance.

A little lack of discipline.

A little lack of life experience.

But those three things all can be remedied.

So, what’s possible? What’s possible today?

Maybe Anything

More than once in history, the American people picked up their newspapers or turned on their televisions to learn the U.S. president had been shot and killed.

That lady over there just won a new car on a scratch-off lottery ticket.

A ping-pong ball bounced the right way last June, triggering a series of events that have turned the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers (my favorite team) into championship favorites after four straight years of horribleness.

Things just happen.

One day I was getting ready to fly to San Diego for a wedding and my wife told me she was pregnant.

Another time, when I was little, my mom put me in a car and drove me 500 miles away from my dad and we never came back.

You get the idea.

We know this already because life surprises us all the time. Like when we heard the Robin Williams news last week.

Things just happen. And we can’t see them coming.

The good news is that many of those things are not bad. And some are quite good.

I’ve just been thinking that maybe my life is a lot like how I thought it would be because I always thought this was “the way.”

You’re a little kid.

You go to grade school.

You go to high school.

You go to college.

You get a job.

You get married and have kids.

You try to get better jobs and raise your kids.

You retire and maybe travel in an RV, or live part of the year in Florida.

It’s hard for my brain to come up with things I haven’t seen or experienced. It’s hard for me to think beyond what I know.

That’s why I’m a writer in a safe corporate job at age 35, convincing people that often have less money than I do that they need to spend it on the things our company sells.

I was always so happy from childhood through college, and a bit beyond, that I never bothered to think about other ways to live a life, or what might happen if I was wrong.

Because, I was wrong.

What I’ve done, and what a lot of people do is A WAY. But certainly not THE WAY.

There’s no THE WAY.

Because while we all share so much deep-seated commonalities within our hearts and minds because of the human condition, we are all motivated by so many different things, and those motivating factors are changing constantly because of changing health or financials or children or death, or simply our individual passions and pursuits.

I want to get better at everything.

I want to get better at being a dad. A homeowner. A writer. A friend. A co-parent.

I want to get better at life.

And they don’t have a scoring system for that which matters. Some people measure it with checking accounts, or attendance records, or the cars in their garage, or their children’s achievements, or the photos they post to Facebook, or the job titles printed on their business cards.

And that’s fine. All of those can be good. And all can be bad. Most of the time, they really don’t matter.

In the end, our ability to thrive mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally in an ever-changing world is what gives us the balance we need to enjoy life. And I think people can achieve that balance and thrive regardless of their job, or their house, or where they graduated college, or how many people fawn over them at the next high school reunion.

There are all these things in life I want to do and experience, but I make excuses and just go to work 40 or so hours a week and hang out at home most of the time in a life that looks and feels a bit wasted.

I’d move somewhere fun! But my son is here and I can’t leave!, I’ll tell you.

I want to write and travel! But I need my job to pay for all of this… stuff!

I’d be hard-bodied and in the best shape of my life since I’m trying to attract a mate! But I’m still a little depressed over my failed marriage and the loss of my family last year so I don’t workout enough!

I always forget: Anything can happen.

I don’t know why I forget since we are constantly reminded.

We get so wrapped up in our little comfortable routines and we’re often too scared to leap. It doesn’t feel safe to leap.

But I WANT to leap. Maybe you do, too.

Because that clock is not slowing down and we only have one shot.

Because safe is boring.

Because the bad things that might happen are never really as bad as we imagine them.

Because we can handle it.

Because no matter how bad, good or great we have it, there is ALWAYS more to life than this. Than right now.

What’s possible today?


23 thoughts on “What’s Possible Today?”

  1. Oh, I feel like this is a prequel to something really exciting. Hoping for a next new thing that you dream of and engineer for you and your son. What’s the thing you’ll look to on your deathbed and be so glad you did…? Hmmm.
    Fingers crossed for all good things.

  2. “We get so wrapped up in our little comfortable routines and we’re often too scared to leap. It doesn’t feel safe to leap.” – – – last night, when my ex had the kids (and I was dressed quite nicely since I’d sung at a funeral that day), my mind told me to go out! Have and experience! do…SOMETHING!… but for some unknown reason, I chose, instead to wallow. I stayed late at work (without working, just surfing facebook) and then went home to sit in my suit in the dark and eat hummus out of the container with a stick of string cheese….. Why do I continue to walk the dark, lonely path, unnecessarily? I’ve got to get to the rut-root and figure out how to finally climb out and claim my stinkin’ life back! thanks for the post, friend. Thinkin’ of you all the time.

    1. It feels heavy and depressing after you get divorced and everything changes.

      I’m JUST–just within the past couple months–not intentionally choosing to sit home alone when there are better choices to make.

      Little can happen if we don’t put ourselves out there. xo

  3. “Because the bad things that might happen are never really as bad as we imagine them.
    Because we can handle it. Because no matter how bad, good or great we have it, there is ALWAYS more to life than this.”

    You must have been reading my mind today 🙂 I just said nearly this same thing to someone yesterday. Had a date a few weeks back (you may or may not remember -you get so many replies) and things have been going really well. I decided to stop dating anyone else I had been because I really like this person. My friend said to me “what if HE is still dating others, do you want to narrow your choices and perhaps get hurt?”. My reply was “You know, I very well may get hurt – and he very well may be dating other people. But I need to do what feels right to me. And if I do get my heart broken and fall flat on my face, it’s not like I haven’t been there before and survived. I’d rather take the chance and know I can get through it – than never leap at all”.

    It’s all about choices – you can be safe or you can live your life in the moment and see where it takes you. It may take you down a road of hurt, or a road of joy – either way you learn something.

    Thanks for such a great post.

    1. Robin, was it you that I gave the big: “You don’t have to prove yourself, HE has to prove himself!” speech?

      If so, this is very exciting. You found someone you like.

      And now you’re in a super-fun stage.

      I, for one, am very happy for you. And no matter what happens, it’s a huge win to get to this point, and a wise and courageous attitude to handle it as you are.

      Thank you so much for reading and saying hi.

      I’m very happy to hear things are on the upswing. And even happier to hear you’re choosing bravery at the thought of possibly losing it.

      The shell is safe, but horrible.

      Being out there is scary, but rewarding.

      There is only one choice.

      1. Yes, it was me you gave that speech to, and it was a good one.:-) It meant a lot as well, so thank you for that. Thank you also for the kind words here. There is hope in getting out there for all of us – it is so scary and I find myself taking deep breaths ALL the time. But it’s worth it, and you are right – there is only one choice, to live life in the moment as best we can.

  4. Excellent post Matt and one I should really act on immediately but and there always is a but, I’ll leave it to tomorrow or the weekend to make plans and then something will come up…
    Will be really interested to know how many of us actually have gone ahead and made a significant change in our lives in six months time.
    I hope I’m one but I’ll just watch a little TV first.

    1. Thank you!

      I think it’s perfectly okay to be honest.

      Part of a good life is being able to do what you want, when you want. And if people want to just sit comfortably and watch TV, I think that’s more than okay.

      I just think, when we look back on our lives, we regret not doing more, talking more, playing more, kissing more, seeing more, etc.

      So, it seems wise to try and do those things more often.

      I know I’m trying.

  5. My blog today states “Celebrate Everything” and that’s my new motto! And despite the fact that my son has let me know that I can start going on adventures without him, we are still having adventures! Life is so much more fun when you are excited about it! 🙂 Good luck to you!

  6. I think, when we are young and just starting out, we often tend to see things in more black-and-white absolute terms, but then, as you said, “things just happen” (like a divorce we didn’t want or an unexpected death) and we realize that we really have very little control and that what we thought was black or white is often not even close. The older I get, the less I know for sure, but even though at first that can feel like a scary free fall, the leap becomes more exciting as we abandon ourselves to the possibilities. Thanks for the positive post about the potential hope we can find in possibility!

  7. Beautiful as always. I started long ago with your first post and have not missed it since. However it may seem like nothing is changing each passing day, when you look back you’ll realize a lot has really changed! There’s no general rule to life, all I know is that there are always silver lining to every dark cloud. You’ll shine and be celebrated soon to the awe of the people around you. Your son would be very proud of you for being the greatest dad that ever lived (after me that is lol).

  8. Because sometimes what we choose isn’t what we can do but what others told us the path was and we followed it. Now at 35 with your life still open in front of you, it is possible to choose differently and take risks. Scary but true.

    As you always do, beautifully written. I hope you inspire yourself as much as you inspire others.

  9. Even though I can’t relate to the exact thing that you are going through, I do relate in a different environment. We left our comfortable life, living in a sticks and bricks life and started on a different road, in an RV. It is scary, fun, sometimes boring, but always interesting. You never know what will happen, A couple of months ago we had a blow-out on a front tire on the RV – could have been disastrous, but we survived and are still going, until we can’t anymore. Thanks for the retrospect! .

  10. You really need another woman in your life, but right now you’re too needy. If you would take working out seriously, and throw out all of the crap in your refrigerator and pantry, you would be more attractive to women and your life would change. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but it seems like you want someone to pat you on your head and tell you everything is going to be OK. It ISN’T going to be OK, unless you do something about it.

  11. Thank you Matt! I have been contemplating a huge change in my life and had pretty much decided to go for it but am scared to death, but you just sounded like a cheerleader in my corner rooting for me to go for it!

    1. I am a cheerleader in your corner rooting for you to go for it.

      Life’s too short to chase the things that call to us.

      If you feel compelled to do something, and people aren’t going to get hurt, I’m absolutely believe you should do whatever that thing is.

      What’s the other option? Nothing?


      Go get it.

    1. I’ve always been one of those, Kristi. Thank you for checking it out.

      Still hoping to come up with something new for today.

      1. You’re welcome 🙂 You should. I’m working from home until 2 on a hard deadline (with a 10:30 am nursing/blog-reading break, of course, ha ha), then taking my 4 kids plus infant to an amusement park by myself at 3. Anything’s possible. LOL

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Matt Fray

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