All I really want from life is more time to think about it. And fewer meetings.
It’s not exactly my mission statement, but it is a grand and hopeful dream.
“When I was younger, I thought I was gonna be special,” Bertie tells her daughter in Hope Floats. You and me both, Sandra Bullock. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be Julia Roberts. I stare at celebrity homes in magazines with the oddest sense that they are actually mine – I’ve just lost my way for a while. When one of my favorite actresses flies to Paris again, I feel the same as if it’s just one more time than I have. I want all that so much sometimes it doesn’t feel like wishing at all, but remembering.
And because I want it so much, it’s hard to remember the truth – that I am living my life according to specific, chosen values. They have not gotten me rich and famous yet – and they almost definitely never will, but I continue to live by them on faith – without any actual proof – that living by them will make me happier in the end.
I’m betting you have the same values. Only you may think you live them because you have no other choice. I say we’re choosing. Let’s break it down and all feel good about ourselves, shall we?
the Value: Time is more important than money.
Every minute of our lives could be turned into money if we were willing. I am convinced I do not make as much money as I am capable of making. This is true because I have a value that time (with my kids, with my husband, with myself, or with the ocean for goodness sake) is far more important than another dollar. Time is something I value more than shoes. The vacation hours I earn each paycheck are as precious to me as the paycheck itself, because the hours can’t be traded in for groceries. They are actual time in which I can do anything I want and get paid for it. That’s the dream, people. Time is the dream.
the Value: Simple is bliss.
It is possible right before I die, I will ask myself, “Why didn’t I buy more knick knacks?” I can’t actually prove otherwise. I live by this value, because it seems true. Because my new gray walls with white trim are so pretty I don’t want to cover them with pictures. Because when my grandmother got to a certain age she ceased to care even about her collection of beautiful elephants and was just happy to be alive and loved and quiet with one chair and a puzzle. There is something so true in the value of simplicity that I am not resigned to it but chasing it.
the Value: Everything factors to small.
Chalene Johnson is a self-described serial entrepreneur whose current message to the world is, “Stop hustling.” She encourages business owners to imagine the level of freedom they want in their life and then build their work around that. Maybe some people have lots of stuff in their ideal life, but her point seems to be that what most of us want is more time with the people we love, more space away from the maddening crowd, more quiet and rest and fun. It’s difficult to see that I’ve arrived when she sits on a porch outside her open family room two stories up from an infinity pool in Los Angeles and I sit on a porch decidedly not. But this value tells me the joy of porch-sitting is the same for me as it is for her, that everything we could want factors all the way down to simple, happy pleasures we already have.
If you have not seen my beautiful family, you have not seen the best of me.
Now, the whole truth is that I am the dog in UP, my habitat is social media and there are squirrels every single tweet, insta, Publishers Weekly announcement and InStyle magazine Look of the Day. Kate Middleton is a gorgeous, brunette squirrel with a prince, a castle, and no day job except to be the freaking Duchess of Cambridge. SQUIRREL.
I’m distracted all day long from my beautiful values, but I return to them. I know in my heart that they are true and that one day I’ll be at the end and perfectly happy as proof.
Next time you feel tired and take a risk by slipping into some out-of-the-way market for a snack you rarely indulge in, and then slip back out without a single person noticing you haven’t done your hair – take a look at the quiet, paparazzi-free life around you and see if you don’t get exactly what I mean. We simple people in our quiet lives have it all.