Life used to be one giant game of Whack-A-Mole, the arcade game where you stand above a series of holes with a mallet or bat and try to smack moles as they arise randomly. In my case, however, those moles were work assignments, social responsibilities and general life requirements.
Just as I would deal with one call for my attention, it seemed two or three others would raise their ugly heads. Distracted and disoriented, I would reach for one task only to watch it recede and yet others arrive.
As a 60-second challenge in an arcade or amusement park, the game can be quite fun; a way to exercise your peripheral vision and reflexes.
As a lifestyle choice, however, it was exhausting.
A change—well chronicled in this blog—took place a couple of years ago, and my approach to Whack-A-Mole changed with it.
I still play the game, but now the moles are of my choosing. I know where the next mole will arise because I put it there.
A novel writing episode. A hockey game to attend. A poem to create. A book chapter to read. Words to cross in a puzzle. All of my choosing.
Movies to attend with friends. Colleagues to meet in a pub. Media on which to socialize. I can say yes…and I can say no.
As I learned to give up control of my life, I also made sure I gave up any over-arching sense of responsibility for the happiness or satisfaction of others. I do my best to fulfill my commitments, but I make sure I understand where my commitments end.
The result? I have never been more in control of my life.
Ironically, in my divestment of control came an unexpected freedom that has manifested itself as a muse that comes unbidden. I do not search or wait for the muse; she sits with me constantly. An earnest voice who insists on being heard.
I have become the mole. Now, it is my turn to pop up in other people’s lives—hopefully welcomed—to offer exciting new creative opportunities.
A new sketch or monologue. A book that needs illustration. An idea for a video. An invitation to photograph animals at the aquarium.
Go ahead. Gimme a whack!
(Images are property of owners and are used here without permission, but I thought I’d take a whack at it.)