I went to Smart & Final yesterday. I don’t particularly like Smart & Final. I only really enjoy it when I’m out shopping for a party – which I frequently do for work. I like throwing parties, particularly when I’m using someone else’s money to do so, but I can’t say I particularly enjoy going to them.
And I don’t particularly enjoy Smart & Final.
I was depressed yesterday. That has to be said. A lot of things hit me yesterday that I’d been absorbing for the past week, month, new year. And then I bumped my head on the edge of the plywood shelf by my desk and all hell broke loose.
Perhaps all the things I’ve been “absorbing” can be attributed to my weight gain. Probably not.
So I’m standing in line at Smart & Final. In a state of mind on the brink of – whatever. And I’m watching people shop. An old woman picks up an oversized package of non-dairy creamer and stares blankly at the label. A woman in a pink sweater and child peruse the candy aisle. A man wheeling a flatbed cart complains in a high-pitched squeel to a helpless stocking clerk and threatens to take his business somewhere else if they can’t find the right brand of pretzels.
I don’t like this place. And it makes me wonder why I spend so much time in a place I hate.
In Smart & Final’s case, it’s something I have to do every week for work. An hour out of the week isn’t a big deal, necessarily. But I’m thinking more generally. Why do we spend so much on time things we don’t want to be doing and so little on what we do?
Some things are unavoidable. I just paid my registration on my car. I didn’t enjoy that either. But if I want to drive, tough luck. But there are plenty of things we do have control over.
My point is this: life is short. Really short. Much shorter than I ever imagined it. The average life expectancy in this country is just under 78 years. So, if I’m lucky, I’ve already lived out a good third of my life. And that’s if I’m lucky. I could die today as far as I know – and I don’t want to know that I spent a large amount of my time shopping at Smart & Final.
There are a lot of people in LA who moved here in order to “be somebody.” They either have some vague sense of what success is, or very specifically want to be Julia Roberts or Harrison Ford status. But even Harrison Ford woke up one day, said “Fuck it”, and became a carpenter. Even though he wasn’t any good.
Another point here: nobody knows anything about what they really want.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work for our own versions of success. But should we have to muddle our days with so much BS to wade through that we really believe that we won’t be happy until we’ve achieved that far off success? Isn’t it possible to be happy right now while still working toward bigger things?
The large picture of a lifetime – that is frightening. But the small picture of a single day – that’s the important stuff.
First step, I believe, is to appreciate the moments that make up your day – such as finding a puppy sitting on your laundry, trying to keep you from leaving. The rest I’ll work out as I go.