on the shelf

Last year I attempted and finally succeeded in reading a rather lengthy novel, The Goldfinch. It is 771 pages. I am a fairly fast reader, but due to the enormity of it and the immensity of life situations, I returned The Goldfinch to the library when I reached about the half way point. I did not want to wrack up a huge library fine. Remembering where I was, I eventually checked it out again and finished. It’s a good story and I recommend it. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction so I suppose others would recommend it as well……….

Sometimes it’s hard to put something on the shelf though. At least for me. Saying to myself, “I cannot complete this right now,” is difficult. I can sometimes feel like I’ve failed myself. I am a bit [okay, more than a bit] of a procrastinator, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m speaking more of situations which, because much of the goings on are out of my control, I have to place them aside. Or I can’t bring myself to deal with them at the time.

The thing about putting something on the shelf is I can always go back to it. I can reach up and take it back down. It’s not like closing a door or throwing something away. It’s a revisit, so to speak. An “I’m heading home for now, but I will be back next week.”

There are times when I realize I have shelved something, even though that wasn’t my intent. It sort of happened without me noticing. An example? My Etsy store. One day, not so long ago I thought to check, and all of my listings but two expired in May. I had shelved the store without a thought even occurring as to my choice in the matter.

My son asked me a while back about my travel plans. He said something to the effect, “You were going to go to ___________. You were going to maybe go to _________. What happened?”. I found myself mumbling a response….. I had loosely set some goals. Considered going along with friends to a foreign country. A trip that would have been beneficial and fairly easy to handle. But in a pseudo cloud of half realization and half indecisiveness, I let the opportunities pass. Again, I put something on the shelf, thinking, somewhere in the back of my mind, I can’t or shouldn’t so I won’t. Not now. Trying to justify bad timing. The good thing, though, is I can take the plans off the shelf. I have a passport. There are other trips to take.

My daughter and I just watched a television program that featured a situation I find similar to what I’m describing. Two people in a relationship came to a crossroads because neither of them could put their wishes on the shelf. It’s a funny show. But the scenario was serious, in that sometimes we have to decide what we’re going to give up, don’t we? Our freedom. Desires. Goals. What we want in life. At times, maybe it’s worth the sacrifice.  Perhaps? Give up what you thought you wanted. Or put it on hold until a later date. Which might never come.

There’s a risk. Because items sitting idly on a shelf can gather dust. Cobwebs. They can become passe. Or we can grow old and find it’s too late. Sure, people say, “It’s never too late.” But realistically?

I told myself something recently, pertaining to a situation. “Not today but maybe someday.” Which is maybe a good mantra for this scenario. But it can’t be for everything. Or my shelves would become too weighed down and they’d fall over.

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