Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Coloring books and commitments

I was "row monitor" in second grade; sitting in the last seat, making sure all students in row #4 behaved. If not, their name was recorded in my official "monitor's notebook," which at day's end, was delivered to the teacher. Right now, during daily quiet time, everyone was behaving appropriately. No one messed with the law when I was on duty.

If all was calm, and we had no pending assignments, we were given permission to color. Each of us had a coloring book in our desk for just such occasion. Eagerly, I pulled my precious book from inside my desk and began flipping through the pages, looking for just the right picture. I always colored the "way cool" pictures first, usually images with robots or ray guns. Alas, they were all completed. Slightly disappointed, but undaunted, I dropped to the next level, the boring pictures - the ones with horses or girls in them.

"Make a mental note," I told myself, "get a new coloring book - no girl pictures." But since that was all that remained, I began flipping pages. Nothing. The entire coloring book was full.

Sadly, I slid my book into its home, folded my hands on my desk, looked up at the clock, sighed, and waited; I had absolutely nothing to do.

I believe that was the last time I remember that happening.

Back then; there was more time than I could ever fill. Its vast landscape stretched out unbroken in front of me forever, no urgency, a million tomorrows yet to come. To a child, there seems no end point, no termination; life is a road without finish. Anything is possible whenever one should choose.

My life today is poles apart from how it was when I was seven. Now, I pay considerable sums of money to take cruises, putting me in a place where I force myself to do "nothing." Like an addict going through withdrawal, the first few days without assignments and deadlines feel awkward and uncomfortable. Finally, when I can settle down and relax, I become tense over my pending return to the garble of assignments and responsibilities that cascade through my waking hours, keeping me amped from before dawn to after dark.

In a world crushed by deadlines and everyday jobs, we too often delay Responsibility One: taking care of ourselves so we can enjoy this ride as long as possible.

"One of these days," I will get my act together. "Someday soon," I will eat correctly, "When the time is right," I will spend more time with my family.

We - like the wide-eyed children we no longer are - feel there's constantly tomorrow, still another sunrise to come. That might be. However, there is no guarantee.

Why not begin today?

Now, where did I put that coloring book?

About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and columnist. Since losing 70 pounds over 13 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations throughout the country. His second weight loss book, "MORE Striving for Imprefection: 52 additional columns on weight loss, habit change, and other acts of faith" was just released. Both books are now available at or by contacting him at or 707.422.6243.

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