Friday, December 21, 2007

Slowing Down

The journey or the goal.

I find it interesting when i look back on my life and times when i reached absolute clarity of understanding about something, the seeming illusion of completeness and it lead me to write this article. I have had several periods in my life where i really felt like i "got" life or myself or some element of something and yet these moments were so fleeting, before i was re immersed ion the complexity of day to day living or some drastic reality check upset the apple cart and my happy little world.

So much of life and what we do and are taught to do is related to "goals" We set them, strive for them and drive ourselves with seeming obsessive determination towards achievement. This crowning achievement that will bring happiness, nirvana, completeness etc. However each time this pace upon attainment is so fleeting, a wisp of time before we move onto the next goal.

Did you ever set yourself a goal, a weight, a test score, a GPA, a job title or some other accolade that you may have kept secret and held in a deeply personal place, or you may have broadcast to the world. Sometime later we often look back on this dedicated focus and laugh at how seriously we took this milestone, this building block of our life and future. How small it often seems now, or sadly in some cases, how we reflect upon the heights we reach and the pinnacle we crested as our former selves.

I have a unique opportunity to witness this sensation in the most extreme form by being married to someone who is very driven, highly competitive and has un-containable anxiety. She can never rest in place for even a second, tread water and look around at what is going to on or even reflect on where she is going. Her drive sets constant goals and targets, her competitive nature drives her to reflect on how well those around her are doing at reaching their targets and her anxiety never allows her to rest in case someone else is catching her, or she is falling behind or any one of the myriad of other thoughts that get to race through her mind uncontrolled and un-contained!!!

This is the great skill, the self discipline that i unfortunately see little evidence of in our education, upbringing and schooling system. To navigate one must pause and look around for landmarks, directions and to find a point of focus - a target. To then plow on to that target without any awareness of ones surroundings however, negates much of the pleasure of the journey if not the purpose. The goals itself upon attainment is fleeting for we already target the next goal and are moving forward again! Thus it seems to be that many people attain "venerable" age and suddenly sense life has passed them by, they are in crisis, what happened to this or that!

The process of reflection or prediction are vital tools and skills in life on must skillfully develop, learn from you r mistakes or the mistakes of others. Predict what the future holds and stay one step ahead.......However without living the "majority" of time in the "present" and "acting" rather than thinking we can truely harness wisdom and achieve our potential.......The secret that comes with this is if we live in the present we can excise our demons from the past and not be influenced by our fears of the future, we can enjoy the now, find the brief, beautiful fleeting moments and "live" them with joy, with our entire being for now we are taking pleasure in the journey not just in achieving the goal, creating the memories that will keep us warm in the future and gaining the experience that will guide us through.

I was talking to someone recently who reflected on how hard "life" was - for those who don't know, i had a Brain Aneurysm, my Wife was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor etc etc and yet the are surprised to see me laugh and smile more, to welcome challenge and attack and overcome any and all this i respond with several statements:

1) I will bang my head against a brick wall till either my head cracks or more likely the wall will break and i will proceed though the difficulty!
2) The ultimate goal in life is dying, its how everyones story ends, so with this realization brought on by our own experiences of mortality i now am dedicated to living every single day as fully as possible and nothing has the power to make me role over and die!
3) There are only two real options in life - fight or flight (freezing is in essence flight) and i know that flight just isnt an option as no matter how far or where you run you will always find yourself there!!!! I personally always advocate hard work, self discipline and determination as they are the cornerstone of building a better you - choose to fight as anything else is tantamount to giving up as the day we stop evolving ourselves, progressing and developing is the day we begin dying (we just may not realize it yet)

Copyright Jonathan Rose 2007 - Creative Commons License

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