Thursday, July 8, 2010

Still, Part 1

I'd love an extra two hours in the day.  It's now 1:54 a.m. and I'm just beginning to wind down from today's hustle and bustle.  I hate to just crash at the end of a day.  I abhor being so tired that I fall asleep without going through my motions.  I like sipping my tea and reading my book, when it's quiet all around, even if my eyes are burning me and my body is aching with fatigue.  I also would love to wake up before every one to recreate this experience at the start of my day. That's where I would squeeze in those extra hours.  I've noticed that it's difficult to go to bed after every one and wake up before everyone, so for now, I'm choosing to burn only the midnight oil.

I wasn't always so vested in quiet and external stillness.  I fluidly moved from work activities to extra-work activities to church activities to hobby activities and back again. I guess I must have gained energy in all this energy expenditure because I really enjoyed everything I did in those days (except working in corporate america).  The enjoyment of the activity was a natural high.

When Isaiah and I got married, it was perfect.  We consolidated the activities.  Aside from our jobs, we did everything together.  That's how we always related.  I'm planning an activity, he's part of my planning team.  I return the favor when he was planning something.  We were the activity tag-team!  We were busy, but didn't feel it.  To be truthful, busy life in Jamaica is nothing like busy New York city life.  We always felt rested.  We took every long weekend we could find to get away and explore a part of Jamaica that we hadn't been to before.

That easy flow of constant activity felt interrupted with children and aborted with migration.  Suddenly, we found ourselves in a different financial situation, different cultural situation, working hard to re-establish community and become grounded.  The activities changed and they became work.  The job was work, the children were work, church was work, living was work, everything felt jarring and unsettling and ...tiring.  I really understand why work gets such a bad rap.

As I sit in my own laboratory, observing my life, I see internal shifts from Uncomfortable Discomfort to Comfortable Discomfort (Thanks Sree!) in so many areas.  I am seeing the treasure inside the discomforts, the diamonds hidden away in challenges.  One of these internal shifts has been this quest for stillness, the thing that has me up at 2:13 a.m.  I'm learning something that had eluded me before.  Maybe I didn't need to learn it before.  

Everything that I had accomplished, I worked hard and strategized and was very intentional in getting.  I'd plan to achieve something, and achieve it.  There might have been road blocks, but nothing that looked insurmountable to me.  Using a body building analogy, I was working out constantly at my current fitness level, maybe even a bit below.  My muscles weren't being challenged to grow and I didn't have to rest in between workouts.  Now, the challenge level has increased several notches.  Now, the need for rest, for stillness has become mandatory.

I had a fantastic time watching Karate Kid (2010).  Mr Han told Dre he needed to be still (as he was getting beat up because he couldn't anticipate the punches).  His words echoed in all my head as if he was speaking to me.  He commented that stillness is like water without a ripple.  When you look in it, you see your reflection without distortion.  When I think of seeing my reflection, I think of the journey to being who I want to be and allowing who I'm being to show up as what I'm doing.  In those times when my life was lead by activity, it was more that I was showing up and doing and that was how I derived who I was being.  In other words, my sense of value was defined by what I did.  When my doing is part of defining who I am, and the doing changes as life changes, my mental pictures of myself were changing.  I was watching me in a movie and I didn't like the character I was becoming.

We live in an impatient, activity driven society.  Things are always on the go! go! go!  Yet, when I go! without having a clear picture of who I am being, I run out of steam.    I'm grateful for the new level of challenge.  I now get to slow down, be still, see my reflection, study it, love it, and move out of that stillness into activity.  It's as if my reflection in the stillness is it's own unending energy source!  I can really go! go! go! (after I stop! stop! stop!)  As I said, it's a new skill for me, so somedays I forget this valuable learning and judge my desire for frequent pauses as lack of industry.  Usually, though, the stillness reminds me of who I'm being.  I access my inner flow and decide if this is a moment for swimming in the current, or just floating.  I'm floating today.

I will keep working on including these still points into every day.  2:30 a.m., though quiet, isn't optimal timing for me every day.  Yet practicing stillness has me recognizing that it can happen at any time of the day.  Quiet is a wonderful attribute, but not mandatory.  Inner quiet is the key.  I can be still any time of the day, any day, and in so doing, I can drink in the vision of who I truly am and live that person out as I do my activity for the day.

When you become really still, what does your reflection look like?

1 comment:

  1. Faith: that's a very useful insight for me - whether the Doing is driving the Being or vice versa. And being an immigrant like you, I am also struck by the difference in my old and new environments in that respect.


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