A kind of confession.
I just can’t seem to write this with SEO and blog traffic in mind. Not yet. First, the goal is to write what’s true, then find those with whom it will resonate, shake up, and begin to plant seeds of change.
If you’re reading this now, hi. You’re in that group, for what that’s worth.
In my last post, I promised to tell you about some things I stumbled upon which have enabled me to make it through some pretty hairy times, and that keep my equanimity (for the most part). It’s a work in progress and a tool I promised to share. It’s also where all of this writing for ImaginedSelf is going.
For simplicity’s sake and to get right to the point, the tool is called “looking”. And to give you an introduction that’s simple and unencumbered, what that means is looking at the events of reality without the overlay of incessant thinking. How does it work? The best example is to explain what’s happened over the last 15 days.
There have been quite a few friends who’ve greeted the news of my job loss with genuine sympathy and concern. That’s an entirely appropriate response given the circumstance, and is one that comes from their thinking about my thinking about the situation. It’s a sympathetic response I’m grateful for. The expectation is that my mind needs soothing, and there may actually come a time when that becomes a real need. But not yet. Hang tight.
Right now, I’m housed. I’m clothed, and I’m not hungry. What’s more, I have woken up in awe to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic each day, job hunted from several coffee shops, and have gotten more exercise that I ever did while seated in the office. So far, so good.
It would be easy for me to panic about not yet having gotten my resume to a state I feel is complete, or about putting my life “out there” on a blog. In some cases, my open communication may even hinder my efforts, but truthfully, if I can’t be who I truly am in the place I spend the majority of my day, then the position is not a match and I don’t belong there at all. Anyone who employs me deserves my honesty and full commitment as well as 100% of my effort.
To get back to the lack of concern or panic… somehow it’s not happening because over the past few years, I’ve begun to learn how to separate what’s actually happening, from the panic-inducing state of paying attention to what I believe is happening. I haven’t always understood the difference and have only recently experienced it on a visceral level. It’s a real and significant difference that’s brought an amazing and elusive thing called “peace of mind”.
What it boils down to is, if I just look at the events of my life , they appear very differently than if I just think about them. How different? Absolutely worlds apart.
Looking is about my seeing reality through the lens of actual experience. Thinking is when I overlay a “what if”. My understanding the difference is the secret to how I recognize ways to remain “in the now” rather than allowing the mind to spin forward into scenarios it imagines may happen. Those scenarios rarely do appear but most of the time, they are the fears that steer our lives. That’s because we’ve been taught to live this way even though it’s not our only option. It’s simply the unquestioned default.
What I’ve found and want to share, is that it’s possible to dilute or entirely eliminate the fears by continuously looking at the truth of what’s being experienced in any given moment, rather than become blinded by a belief about what’s happening. To do this well is sometimes a continuous practice until it becomes second nature, and the 30 days of change is a tactic I’m using to keep myself on track. It’s almost counterintuitive, though, because we’re constantly told to hold fast to our beliefs. And if we’re talking about ideals, I’d agree. Hold them close.
But we’re not talking about ideals.
We’re talking about the facts at hand, especially if we’re surrounded by challenges. It’s about whether we’re are alive and breathing. Whether we’re hungry. Whether we’re sheltered and reasonably comfortable. If we have these things, we have enough to move forward into the next moment with ease. Each moment of this looking at the facts of our reality can deliver us into the next, one by one. Collectively, they are the ACTUAL moments that make up our lives rather than those that comprise the imagined state of our lives. We have been conditioned to live in the latter and forget to pay attention to the former.
I’ve learned that to understand this difference is the key to living with ease.
Day 17: More on why everything is ok, all the time. And detailed how-to on “just looking”.