Sunday, March 1, 2015

Will you marry me?

This is a question I have never been asked and for all I know, I never will be. But I've been thinking about proposals lately and also thinking about the way that I think about them.

When I was younger I used to imagine what I'd say when someone asked me to marry him. I'd come up with entire dialogues and blocking. But every single time my answer came down to, "I'll have to think about it." Not once did I imagine an immediate yes. Is that weird? I suppose when you're just imagining things, you want the story to keep going. You want the drama and conflict of not knowing what your answer will be.

But what I noticed was that, for some reason, I was always imagining the unexpected proposal—the one that comes out of nowhere. I didn't imagine that we'd already talked about marriage in a round-about way. In most of my scenarios, we weren't even dating.

That's the part I now think is most weird.

And it's making me wonder if that one mental tic is actually symptomatic of a larger trend in my thinking: I tend to look ahead and focus on possibilities instead of on the present. So in this case, instead of daydreaming about dating first, I would jump straight from mere acquaintanceship to the proposal scene. 

There's nothing really wrong with dreaming about the future, except when you miss the real-life steps it takes to get there. Like with dating. I should be daydreaming about meeting someone I'd want to spend time getting to know in an increasingly more romantic way. I should not be daydreaming about being unexpectedly proposed to by a near-stranger who shows up on my doorstep because he can't stop thinking about me. In real life, that would freak me the heck out.

But still, I jump ahead. 

And it's not just with dating.

Same thing holds true for my tiny house dreams. I constantly envision the day I can walk inside of this beautiful small space and know that it is totally and completely mine forever, with no more work to be done on it and everything exactly as it should be.

But that's not real life. In real life, the most likely scenario is I'll buy a tiny house eventually, but it will be secondhand and I'll want to make it my own with renovations. Or possibly I'll muster up the courage to actually build the thing myself, which will mean there will be even more steps in the process and it will probably never be really "done," since there will always be tweaks I'll want to make.

Today at stake conference I was sitting in a room surrounded by families with an average of five children. Seriously. I'm telling you, there were a LOT of kids there. And it made me remember how I used to come up with names for all of the kids I was planning to have someday. I don't do it as much anymore, but back when I was in college this was a favorite pastime for me. Once again, I was jumping ahead.

Real life is full of mess and confusion and complications. But that's not the stuff of daydreams. (Except, apparently, when you end your hypothetical proposal scene with "I'll have to think about it." Because that seems pretty complicated and messy to me.)

The point is, I think I need to do a better job of focusing on the reality of taking one little step at a time instead of jumping ahead to the end of my journey. That's really the only logical way to do things. It's good to have an ultimate end goal in mind, but it's much easier to accomplish something when all you're worried about is the next little baby step.

That's what I'm planning to do this month: look at all of the things I want to accomplish in life and figure out what the next baby step is for each of them. It might be something as little as making a phone call to change my flight plans or writing another 700 words each day in March or putting $20 more dollars into my emergency fund. Actually those are all things I really do plan to do this month. 

No matter what your goal is, there's always something little that can be done. And once you do that one little thing, you can take another little step until eventually all of those little steps add up and you find yourself at the top of the mountain. Or something.

Excuse the mixed metaphors. It's getting late and I'm rambling. The point is, when you get stuck on something, it might be because you're looking too far ahead. Instead concentrate on one little thing. That's my thought for the day.

And now I'm going back to daydreaming. Or maybe I'll just go to sleep and do some actual dreaming. Yeah. That sounds like a better idea to me.

PS—I really hope that if I ever do get proposed to, it will be nothing like my daydreams. I hope I'll just say yes and everything will go smoothly. But I suppose one upside to all of these daydreams is that if I ever write a proposal scene in a book, I'll already have a thousand different scenarios from which to glean inspiration. That could be really fun. Except that now you'll all know how the scene ends. The heroine will always say, "I'll have to think about it."

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