Do it anyway

photo-249For years, I sang in a choir called the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. It was all 20- and 30-somethings. Youthful voices blend together well, and it was a pleasure making music with such a crisp, clear sound. We commissioned lots of new music from young composers too. I left the choir when we moved to Pennsylvania, but I’m still the president of the board of trustees. I try to make it in for many of the concerts.

The Christmas concert in particular is always beautiful, partly because the music is familiar. I smile listening to harmonies I have sung before, and choral music has a special satisfaction to a listener when you know a profound moment is coming. The concert was this past Saturday night. I bought a ticket and cleared it with my husband to take Saturday evening “off” to go into New York.

So that was the plan, but this has been a rough week. Lots of work stuff has been in my lap, plus a lot of personal during-the-day stuff. I had several bad nights in a row of the baby kicking me. Come Saturday, I was exhausted. And the weather was atrocious. Freezing rain. Fun.

The idea of driving to the train station, getting on the train for an hour and 15 minutes, then taking the subway and walking in the rain to the church seemed like a lot of bother. Even worse, I’d then have to repeat the journey in reverse. I checked the train schedule and remembered that Amtrak starts running pretty infrequently on Saturday nights. I’d have to take an 11:05 train back to Philly, which would get in at 12:30. I wouldn’t be home until 1 a.m. If I was already yawning at 2 p.m. (when I was weighing all this) how would I make it work?

But I’ve long repeated a 2-part mantra for making space for fun in one’s life: Plan it in, and do it anyway. I’d already planned to go to the concert. That just left the second part: do it anyway.

So I did.

I had a good time. I got a lot of work done on the train and while waiting in the Amtrak waiting area at Penn Station for 30 minutes before the trip home. I wasn’t truly nodding off until the last half hour of the train ride back (i.e. at midnight). There was, unfortunately, an accident on I-76 right around 12:30 a.m. or so, which meant traffic got backed up to go around it. I didn’t get home until 1:20 — and I really didn’t need that last bit of delay. But my husband was still up, so we watched The Daily Show together.

The concert itself was fantastic. I enjoyed several pieces by young composers such as Joshua Shank and Abbie Betinis. I got to say hello to lots of people, and to see New York, with the Christmas trees on the sidewalk lending a top note of Frasier Fir to that strange but immediately recognizable smell of the city.

Am I tired today? Of course. But I’d be tired anyway. At least in this version of events I heard lovely Christmas music. The remembering self deserves consideration in decisions too, not just the present self.

In other news: Actually, two more little bits of Christmas joy. Despite going to bed around 1:45 a.m., I got a reasonable amount of sleep because I slept in until 8:30. The older boys got up and went and turned on the TV themselves. Second, when I finally did stir at 8:30 my first thought was “Oh, crap, the elf.” I’d forgotten to check if Sassy had moved (if you get my drift) when I got home past 1 a.m. the previous night. I was figuring out various options. Perhaps I could claim he’d only moved a few inches and people just weren’t seeing it. Or I could hope that no one had started looking for the elf yet. But when I got downstairs, Sassy had moved! It’s a holiday miracle!

22 thoughts on “Do it anyway

  1. Wow, you are a badass for going to that concert anyway.

    I always end up talking myself out of fun stuff when I’m tired or stressed, and sometimes regret it. That’s a good point that you said you’d be tired anyway!

  2. I wouldn’t have wanted to go either! But that’s mostly because my default setting is to stay home, and if anything starts to make going out look less than wonderful, it really tips me to the side of staying home.

    But the sunk cost of the ticket might have lured me out. 😉

    1. @The Frugal Girl – yep, when I saw myself wavering, I booked my train ticket too! Anything to get the sunk cost phenomenon working in my favor!

  3. I love this! As someone who has been guilty of skipping fun activities this is a mantra I’m going to adopt for myself. Glad you had a good time.

  4. I was having a holiday moment such as this over the weekend as well. I get disappointed because the things that mean Christmas to me are so much different than those that I spend time with. I am in a weird place in life right now. I don’t have a place of my own, so decorating is blah, my boyfriend lives and hour away, and we’re still very separate in most life things. His house and decorations are still very much his own. I don’t have kids, so doing the fun things are for me, not for others, so they tend to fall away in importance.
    My boyfriend and friends are very much home bodies, and I am NOT. I like going to look at lights, and walk around decorated downtowns, and meander through the decorated Christmas stores. There are a few lighting events that mean Christmas to me, but I usually don’t attend because it’s not on anyone else’s want-to-do list. But I decided in the car the other night…I’m doing it anyway! I will go to the Riverside Mission and look at lights, and ice skate on the outdoor mini-rink. I will travel an hour and a half to walk through Candy Cane lane, and I may travel to Coronado Island to look at their amazing tree, and ice skate at the beach!
    All things that I will most likely do alone, but it’s my Christmas time too, and if it pleases only me, that’s acceptable in my eyes! Most years I don’t do “ME” things, but this year I’ve decided to quit putting myself aside.

    1. @Holly – go for it! No need to take anyone with you to enjoy holiday stuff. If it’s really kid-oriented you could try to borrow a friend’s kid for the day and give the parent time to shop.

  5. Good for you! For myself, I’m kind of torn between “do it anyway” and trusting my gut when I’ve committed to something and it just doesn’t feel right anymore. If what’s holding you back is laziness, it’s one thing. If you committed to something and are truly not excited about it, I think it’s okay to back out as long as you aren’t messing other people over…I guess it depends on the facts and circumstances.

  6. You rock. I sing with The Crossing in Philadelphia. If you would like a ticket to our Christmas concert, or any concert this year, you let me know and I will personally take care of it. Being a Mom of two teenage girls, I know that exact struggle and probably would have stayed home myself! Good going!

    1. @Becky – I’ll check out The Crossing – sounds like a group that’s right up my alley. I like new music (I also liked Little Matchbox Girl, which I see you guys are doing!)

    1. @Stephanie – we do have Sassy, although I think next year his arrival may be delayed a few more weeks. I looked it up, and last year he came on Dec 14, which is a very different matter than arriving on Nov 30.

  7. You know what I love about your “do it anwyay”? It wasn’t just getting out in your local community and doing it – you went two hours, on your own, because. I live in a small-town island, but an hour and a half from a major city (though by car, not train). I rarely go there, and tend to feel frustrated / culture deprived with my surroundings. You’ve inspired me!

    1. @Byrd – excellent! Yes, a 90-minute trip is doable if there’s something you want to do. In the rear view mirror of life, the drive probably won’t seem that awful.

  8. Great thoughts, particularly about valuing the remembering self and not just the experiencing self. My experiencing self is pretty ornery, whereas my remembering self can’t remember the extreme details (highs or lows).

    1. @Kathy – I think it’s as much that the remembering self and the experiencing self value different things. The experiencing self is never 100% happy, because it occupies a corporal body that experiences little annoyances like an itchy nose, needing a bathroom before the concert starts, etc. The remembering self looks back on the wash of the experience and doesn’t see all of these details. It’s easy to over-value the experiencing self because it’s what we’re currently occupying, but the remembering self deserves some consideration in all this too.

  9. Getting oneself to “do it anyway” seems a huge obstacle for a lot of moms of young kids, esp when it comes to taking time for self-care, hobbies, etc. Basically all the non-motherhood stuff! I see and hear this a lot–husband goes to gym, wife is resentful. Husband is out with friends whenever, etc. I agree very much with the “do it anyway” for yourself! You want to workout? Go! Husband and kids will survive for an hour! Thanks as always for the great posts!

  10. Hi Laura,

    thanks for sharing your experience. I can relate to the part when you try to justify to cancel an event that is just for fun, because you really don`t have time for it, or you don`t feel like it.

    In those situations, I do too, stick too the plan and push my self-procrastinating self to do it. In retrospect, I`m always glad that I did follow through 🙂

    Tor Refsland

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