Take It Off The Shelf

Right now there is a book on my shelf, taunting me.

It was an impulse purchase from Amazon.  I tend to buy books in bulk and then read them over the next, say, 20 years. If “1-click purchase” was crack cocaine I wouldn’t have any teeth and would live in Baltimore.

Or then again, maybe I have it all wrong.  Maybe it’s like the puppy locked out of the house in the back yard.  You walk by the window and he puts his two front paws against the glass, whimpering.  His puppy-dog eyes say it all:

Play with me.

Whether that book is taunting me or whimpering I can’t be sure.  But one thing I know is that it’s on the shelf.  Collecting dust.  Sandwiched between a sci-fi novel and a self-help book.  How terrible.

I tend to put a lot of things on the shelf.  Not just books, pictures and trinkets from the last vacation.  I can also cram relationships, hobbies, hard conversations and dreams between my IKEA purchased, put-together-myself-without-swearing shelves.

Upon reflection, there’s a lot of stuff that is in my life...but barely.  They’re on the shelf.  “On the shelf” means I think about it every now and then, usually before I fall asleep.  My last waking moment is usually, “Oh!  I would really love to do that!  Maybe I’ll start tomor….zzzzzzzzzzz.”

And on the shelf they stay.  Collecting dust.

"On the shelf" items get talked about over coffee with friends or standing in line for an over-priced movie.  "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if...?" we say.  And then the cup is empty or the movie is over and-- for whatever reason-- that idea never makes it into the texture of our daily lives.

The problem is that many of life’s most fulfilling moments, most rewarding risks and most exciting opportunities tend to stay on the shelf.  Like fine china or a grandfather’s watch—we hold those possibilities with such high esteem that we never bother touching them.

Could it be that the keys to unlocking the parts of our lives we most desperately want to change are sitting on the shelf, right in front of us?

So take your life off the shelf.


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