There's a scene in Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray opines how people are never in their seats when they're supposed to be.

"We all knew, when we were kids. If Dad was ready to go and you weren't in the car at the appointed time...you got left. Your *ahem* better be in the seat!"  Debra, chronically late to leave, tiredly assures him. She will be ready on time the next evening.

He presses her. "You swear? You'll be ready at 8:30. *Ahem* In Seat?"

Debra looks at him calmly.

"Yes Ray. 8:30. A.I.S"

Something about that idea has become my mantra over the last 18 months. Aaron will text me during the day. "How's your day, lovie? What're you up to?"

And I tell him. "Well. I'm A.I.S"

It means I've shown up, that I've put my ass...ets to work, my fanny in the chair. I'm purposely dedicating time and effort to work I've chosen and self-assigned. It's inside of me, so I committed to do it. Even when there are a thousand other responsibilities and distractions knocking at my focus like a Jehovah's Witness in the spring. (Which I actuallyadmire, unless I'm A.I.S)

I watched both of my parents leave, having been wonderful parents but leaving so much on the table. Mom got far fewer years than anyone would ever have guessed. Dad, well, he lived far longer than anyone expected him to, but he still seemed surprised to find himself at the end of the runway, surprised to be out of time with so much still on his list. That's when I realized time takes us all by surprise, old and young, sudden or slow.

So I need to put in my time now, if I don't want to end up empty handed, full of things undone. When I finally reach the end of the runway, I'll pull up and make my departure, and that day, I hope to be able to say I've already spent a great deal of time A.I.S before then. To be able to say I was ready and not scrambling, trying to fit a lifetime of work into a few single sands of time.

scenes from a.i.s.

A.I.S. my friends. It's where I go, when I close the blinds, bar the door, turn off my phone. Usually, it is a hard place to go, harder still to stay, facing work I'm not sure I can do. It's where I cross-examine myself harshly. It's where I'm a beginner, a failure, ridiculously self-amused, staggeringly boring, cold, blunt, overly descriptive, full of doubt. Sometimes also, I throw small sparks of potential, ragged edged and trailing hope, and it's for those that I come back; that I try to be brave and show up again.

So, when you see me say that I'm #A.I.S.  that's where I've gone. Into the dark hollow of creative work that may never amount to anything, but I still do because I've decided that even if I should fail, I'd like to do so daring greatly.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

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