I am a person who shows up, or so I’d like to think. Got a wedding, birthday, baby shower or want to just plain hang out? Correct me if I’m wrong by commenting below but if I have the time in my schedule, then I’ll show up. Recently, though, I’ve begun to wonder if just showing up and going through the motions is enough.
Here’s where I’m going with this. So, this past New Years, some friends came to visit me in my not-so-top secret country bungalow. We ate, we drank and we were ever so merry over the course of the entire weekend. Then, on New Years Day, we got serious. (Well, serious in an artsy fartsy, how many glasses of wine and homemade cocktails have I really drank so far? sort of way).
So, like most people do around the new year, we decided to set goals for ourselves. Rather than grab the ol’ pen and paper to start making our 2012 list O’Resolutions elementary school style, we grabbed a stack of old magazines, a few pairs of scissors and glue. Then, with the help of Cosmo, Women’s Day, a few issues of VIBE and a crapload of bridal magazines, we collaged our merry little hearts away by cutting out pictures and words that represented our wishes, desires and goals for the new year. Amidst the chaos, piles of images and shards of discarded paper, I noticed that we were actually pretty engrossed in doing some serious resolutioning and channeling some heavy duty intentions into the usual areas: money, love, friends etc…
At some point, I came across the headline “Be Part of the Story”. On first glance, I almost overlooked it but something about that expression struck a chord and I returned to it. I snatched it up, pasted it on my collage and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
But what is it about that line? Like I explained earlier, I show up for things. I’m there: smiles, giggles, jokes and all. That headline though was one of those friendly reminders from the universe and the gods that maybe showing up just isn’t enough.
Indeed, the more I continue to think about that headline, the more I realize that when it comes right down to it, I’m there but not always fully there, or “present” as the New Age woo-woos would say. Most people probably do the same thing (maybe there’s a medicine out there for us…if so, please comment below. TJ is now accepting bids, em…I mean recommendations).
During the course of any given event, my mind is constantly visiting other places and I could be:
- planning the grocery list
- outlining the next paper that I have to write
- thinking about what time I should leave so that I can get home in time to walk the dog
- deciding what to wear for an upcoming date
- imagining how I will celebrate 30th birthday
- worrying about whether or not I turned off the stove
- and the list goes on and on and on and on…
All this is fine and dandy but when you get right down to it keeps me from being part of the story. Focusing on those bunny trails keeps me in reporter mode and I become a passive participant in my life rather than an active one. I miss out on experiencing the emotion and essence of the situation whether it be sheer joy, happiness, silliness or even the not-so-nice ones like fear, boredom, anxiety, irritation or sadness.
I’ve done a few practice runs to try and be a part of the story this week and it’s hard. Really, damn hard enough because it requires more self-discipline and focus than usual. When a distracting little temptress came a’ knocking (usually at the onset of a strong emotion or sensation), I acknowledged the distraction but turned my focus to feeling or experiencing whatever emotion/sensation I was trying to avoid feeling in that moment. The first few times were rough (imagine Supernanny meets the mind) but I’m getting the hang of it. Maybe it’s one of those things that you have to train yourself to do. You know, once you exercise the muscle a few times it becomes easier the next few times.
The payoff is big though because things do feel different, in a good way. Life feels more vibrant is the only way I can describe it. Like when someone turns up the sharpness on the color dial of your tv or when you switch from regular to high def tv. The more that I allow be part of the story rather than just show up, go through the motions and allow my mind to wander, the more things to flow more smoothly. I can connect the dots a little faster and life makes a bit more sense.
While I do question whether it’s ever really possible to keep the mind from ever wandering, I am willing to give it a shot. Afterall, that’s part of what this blog is supposed to be about: Me challenging myself to do the impossible.