Tell Elsa she’s on in five

Syahmir, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among the hundreds of t-shirts I own, I have two (and counting) that make fun of the adult life. My newest favorite shows a one-star review to “adulting”, with the mandatory “would not recommend”. And it’s become almost a mantra. Except when I can’t ignore it.

Do we go over again how hard this year has been? Nah, why would be. Heck, just by writing those words I’m risking to alienate most of you fine readers. So let’s just cap off and say, the last month has been kind of hard. Business has slowed down in the restaurant, and people have gotten cheap. Cheap-er, I should say, because Black Friday sapped their money like a lamprey on a salmon’s vein. So money has been tight in the house, like most Decembers. Add the stress that I talked about in my last post, and well, Holiday cheer is not abundant in Casa Rodriguez.

The solution would make my t-shirts cry: a little bit of “adulting”.

If there is one thing with which I have had problems, it’s letting go. Like any good man, I wear clothes till they either break or can’t be folded, or are coming apart like ancient papyrus exposed to the sun. That especially applies to things that entertain me or educate me. And magazines are a big part of that. I have always been a magazine reader, and still am. It’s a reason why my Pocket account is overrun with online magazine articles that I swear I’m going to get to any moment now. (A quick check into my account reveals that the oldest article I saved that i can still read is from 2012, thank you.)

So today I sat down and canceled my only two magazine subscriptions, Wired and National Geographic. They were not that expensive, and the NatGeo was digital only, but I haven’t read any issue of either magazine in detail since I started the subscription. It was money not well invested if I didn’t consume them in their entirety. So I finally grew up and hit “Cancel Subscription”.

I’m not gonna lie –it hurt. I felt like it was denying myself of the pleasure of knowledge, of reading excellent writing, of getting my brain challenged.

And then I got a ping on my phone. “Congratulations! You have paid back 14% of your debt!”

Fourteen percent? Doesn’t seem much. But hey, it means I’m 14% closer to having that debt off my back. It also means I haven’t missed a single payment. It also means I have treated this debt with the seriousness of… wait for it… an adult.

We always put ourselves under so much pressure. We need to be more productive, we fight against FOMO, we have to have better things, bigger things, shinier things. But why? To use a self-help cliché, nobody’s last words were ever “I wish I had worked harder”. Because, it turns out, we worked too hard.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t, as the late artist Amy Krouse Rosenthal once tweeted, pay attention to what we pay attention to. Life is all about that juggling act, and you have to pay attention to all those balls in the air. Your job, your family, your hobbies, your likes, your loves, your hates. They all have to stay up, somehow… until you realize that there’s another ball coming. Then you realize, with a little anguish, that you either try to juggle them all, going beyond your limits, and risk dropping them all… or you choose which one to let go.

That doesn’t mean that, down the line, you’ll get better and be able to juggle a massive amount of balls in the air. But that doesn’t come all at once. It comes after a lot of practice and patience. Of careful planning on when you’re going to practice. On how you’ll challenge yourself to do tricks, look more graceful.

But it all comes down to learning when to let go.

Goodbye, my beloved magazines. I’ll see you again down the road. (And in the meantime, if I want a single issue, there’s always Zinio.)