It’s hard to believe I’m the same girl who had to resolve to read more fiction in 2013. The resolution stuck: I’ve read dozens of novels this year, and just last week I had to force myself to sit down and finish the nonfiction read I’d been working through for too long: Dan Ariely’s instant classic Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions.
It’s a good book, but one passage has absolutely haunted me since I first read it a couple of weeks ago. In a chapter where Ariely discusses decision making and the concept of the “disappearing doors,” he says:
We fail to realize that some things really are disappearing doors, and need our immediate attention. We may work more hours at our jobs, for instance, without realizing that the childhood of our sons and daughters is slipping away. Sometimes these doors close too slowly for us to see them vanishing.
One of my friends told me, for instance, that the single best year of his marriage was when he was living in New York, his wife was living in Boston, and they met only on weekends. Before they had this arrangement–when they lived together in Boston–they would spend their weekends catching up on work rather than enjoying each other.
But once the arrangement changed, and they knew that they had only the weekends together, their shared time became limited and had a clear end (the time of the return train). Since it was clear that the clock was ticking, they dedicated the weekends to enjoying each other rather than doing their work.
I can’t articulate why this passage grabbed me so. Perhaps because the circumstances leading to a great year of marriage were so unexpected; perhaps because it articulated one of my deepest fears–that of letting the happy moments slip through my fingers–so clearly.
I’m just home from Story Chicago, and was surprised to hear this same concept hinted at in Thursday’s opening session. Story founder Ben Arment discussed the fear of failure–a constant fear for entrepreneurs and creative types–but warned us, “The fear of failure is not the only fear that can take reign within you.”
We know to fear failure. We know it’s there, present, a reality before us. The fear we need to cultivate, warned Ben, is the fear of never having tried. “You can never recover what you never tried at all,” he said, warning us, because too often we don’t recognize the danger until the door has shut and the opportunity is gone.
So here I am, back at home, thinking about the present opportunities I see and the ones I’m blind to, the doors that are wide open and the disappearing doors that need my immediate attention.
I’m praying I’ll see them before they close. I don’t want to look back and see the opportunities I missed. And I spent most of the weekend with my phone off and my computer closed, enjoying being back with the people I love.
Tell us about the fears you see and the fears you don’t, and if you’re up for it, your best year of marriage so far.