My absolute favorite book right now is one that I am only 36 pages into. It is a book that I picked up at random from a free book table at our first Retrouvaille post-session. It has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity or sex addiction. It is a book for middle-schoolers. It is called The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Here’s an excerpt from the very first page:
“There once was a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself – not just sometimes, but always.
When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thoughts about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered. Nothing really interested him – least of all the things that should have.
‘It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,’ he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school… As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.”
I am Milo. I am always in a hurry to get somewhere as fast as possible, and hardly ever happy to be there once I arrive. When I am at home I think about things I have to do at work. When I am at work I think about how much I want to be at home, or I waste far too much time blogging, thinking, shopping, and generally not doing the things I am supposed to do. I often feel like my life is one long, monotonous stream that doesn’t interest me at all.
Yesterday I read a piece of advice that I am going to try to incorporate in my life. A woman who is part of a spouses of sex addicts support group I participate in said:
“I’ve been working too hard to fix other things in my life since I can’t fix this. And the aftermath of the recent trauma has completely slayed me. So I’ve decided, instead of killing myself fixing other things, I’m going to try new things. Because clearly the old ways aren’t working, right? 😀
Little stuff. I wear different clothes than I normally do. I drive a different way to my appointments and meetings to see what’s there and what inspires other thoughts and actions. Shopping for groceries and such in different stores. Doing the kids’ bedtime routine in a different order. That sort of stuff. And it has been very liberating and enlightening. Gives me a different perspective.”
I am going to try that. It is a simple idea, but I think it could make a difference. I am SUCH a creature of habit. To the point where it borders on OCD. I take the same route to every place I go, down to when I change lanes. Yes – that specific. I do the same things in the same order every morning. I wear the same basic color palate (can anyone say black?!). I shop at the same stores. I eat at the same places (if not at home, which is what I do most of the time). My life is one big routine.
I am also never fully involved 100% with the thing I am doing – I am the ultimate multi-tasker – constantly working on 2 or 3 things at once while my brain is focusing on something else. This makes me appear very busy at work and gives the impression of efficiency while in reality I am not really giving anything the full attention it deserves. I am in the process of reading (I think) 6 different books right now – two on my Kindle (one on serial killers – my “light,” pleasure reading – and Codependent No More), the one I just mentioned, one about sex addiction (Lust, Anger, Love), Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, and a Criminal Minds book. That’s not even counting the dialoguing workbook that Mr. Mess and I go through each night. I pick and choose between them based on my mood, or even which one is closest to me at the moment. I can’t even remember where the Emotional Infidelity book is right now.
So how am I going to change? I’m not really sure specifically. All I can say is a little at a time. I’m going to start by picking one book and reading it all the way through before I open another one. Maybe I’ll take a different way home from the chiropractor this evening, even though I know the one I usually take is the fastest. What’s the rush, after all? My husband is home all night (no school), and we don’t have any plans that I know of. Tomorrow morning maybe I’ll even do my hair before I get dressed (although it really is impractical that way), pick out a top that is a color I haven’t worn in a while, spend an extra 5 minutes with the dogs, or do a cart-wheel or skip down the hall just for the heck of it (remember when you used to do that as a kid?).
I’m still trying to do at least one thing every day that makes me happy. Today it was reading a little bit more of that book. It just makes me smile. It is such a fun, yet deeply insightful little book. Who knows what I’m going to do tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try keeping track of everything, just to make myself a little bit more accountable for my own happiness. I hope you are doing something that makes you happy today! Don’t let life fly by without enjoying it.
- ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ and the Wonder of Words (nybooks.com/blogs)
- My Reading Life: The Phantom Tollbooth (readmorebooks.wordpress.com)
- The curious world of Norton Juster (independent.co.uk)