Personal breakthroughs often come in strange places and multiple sources. It started with Elizabeth Esther’s proposition of A Gentle Lent, which gave me the initial idea of doing something to honor the Lenten season. Then, a combination of an NPR podcast on happiness, two conversations with my husband, another blog post by someone else and a Buzzfeed tarot quiz all were pointing me in a certain direction. (Weird, right??)
I’m too busy.
Now that’s a weird thing to say because at the moment I feel like my biggest problem is that I don’t have enough to do. I’m “underemployed” and going stir crazy at home, when I’d like to be out working and interacting with people. But despite the unwanted lack of activity in my life at the moment, the part of me that’s too busy is the one that always is – my mind.
I feel like I was reasonably laid back through high school but college changed me. I went to a school where it was fashionable to be over-committed and then double majored and volunteered for several campus publications. I never did work after 11pm and didn’t cram for tests, but I still internalized the competitive intensity in an unhealthy way. I graduated with honors, took two days off to move into the apartment I lived in alone, and then started back up at my internship while looking for a job. Work came in the form of several temporary positions with high stress and the constant reminder that, as a temp, I could be let go at any time. I ran the figures in my head how many months’ rent can I pay with what I have saved right now?
Although I don’t believe in the tarot, that quiz I took mentioned that poverty was the way I saw myself and I believe it’s right. For so long I have measured my life by scarcity – not enough time, not enough money. More hours at work, more time on wedding projects, another thing to accomplish around the house. I’ve been maintaining this paucity of spirit for so long but I realize it’s an untenable position.
I’m good at work and school but bad at having a personal life. I can produce great results, but am so bad at just being present. A recent NPR Ted Radio Hour podcast on happiness caught my attention. A man was talking about how through his research, he found that people tended to be unhappier who, at any given moment were thinking about something other than what they were doing or someplace other than where they were. Sounds familiar.
I come across the word – mindfulness. Google, how do I meditate? This question makes me feel a little pathetic. But that’s what I’m going to do. I wanted to be more present, more mindful. I want to take five minutes every day to meditate, sitting still and working on clear my mind of all the worrisome clutter that makes it harder to live in the moment and appreciate all the good blessings in my life.
This Lent, I hope to begin giving up some of these mental distractions and regain my focus.