I once wrote a piece called Don’t count the days. It was about not counting down the days until weekends and vacations. This piece is the complement to that one. It is called Don’t dread the end.
I have been away with my family this week in a northeast beach town where we have spent a week or two most summers since I was born. I noticed the other day that, unlike in years past, I am not so often thinking about how many days are left in the vacation. I used to do this all the time and feel like the week was going by so quickly. It was mostly a means of dreading the end. I do not think I need to explain in much detail the downside of dreading of the end. I will just say that any time spent dreading the end is not enjoyable, and if you are dreading what is after that time, you should probably be enjoying it while it lasts.
I do not feel like I am dreading the end this time. It is not hard to understand why.
Last year, I spent the day before we left on the beach, reading, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying time with my family under the sun. I spent the day after we left sitting in my cubicle in a dully lit office, working from 10 to 10, going home, going to sleep, waking up, and doing it again.
This year, I will again leave the beach and go back to work, but work now is what I choose it to be. I have two days of podcast recordings preceded by two days of prep. I will write. I will run. I will read. I will think. I may even work on my golf game. Some may call some of these things work. Others may not. I do not care what one calls them. The important part is that they are all things I care to do.
I am not dreading the end of vacation this year because, as much as I am enjoying it, I am digging what I am doing outside of it as well. I know vacation would not be as special if it lasted longer so I am just enjoying it for what it is. It is what it is after all.
Right now, I have reached a fine balance that, even while in it, I can appreciate is hard to reach and may be harder to maintain. It is the balance between counting down the days and dreading the end where I am definitively not doing either. I could even dread the end of having this balance itself. I could dread the day when I may find myself going for a job not because I want it but because doing something so different (not looking for work at 26) can sometimes feel harder than the common thing (having a job), even if the common thing requires 8 hours a day at a desk and the different thing allows me to do whatever I want whenever I want. I could dread that day and I could dread the end but why should I when I can simply let that thought pass as quickly as it came to mind? No counting down the days. No dread about the end.
This is one of my posts that reminds me I am writing for myself first and foremost. If I was writing for you, I might not be so positive. This might read phony to you, but I know it is true. I will be able to look back and read this and know that this balance is possible. I will know that I have been here before. I will know that I have lived in a state where, even if only for a short time, I have not counted the days, nor dreaded the end. I will know then that if I have done it once, I can do it again.
When I wrote Don’t count the days, I quoted Muhammad Ali. He said, “Don’t count the days. Make the days count.” I will end this piece with an attempt at a complement to that quote.
“Don’t dread the end. Just end the dread.”