Hey, you are awesome. Today, right now, every day, regardless of number of days since last shower or number of snarky remarks made toward others or mistakes made at work or lack of motivation to get out of bed or number of dessert items consumed this week. Literally as you sit or stand and your current mood and how your face looks right now, you are an amazing person. My conviction this week is that I want to get better at loving myself and those around me for who we are in each moment, no matter the circumstances. I don’t want to just be a fair-weather fan of life, because let’s face it- not every day is a picture-perfect sunny day. Most of them can’t be much more or less than average, because otherwise we wouldn’t really appreciate the really good days and we’d be numb to the bad ones.
I don’t want this to come across as a claim that we shouldn’t strive to improve ourselves and do good- there will be something for each of us to learn and improve as long as we live. I think part of the beauty of being human is the ability to grow and change constantly. But, I think some trouble creeps in when we want to make those improvements or changes in order to be acknowledged as the best or measure up to some other person that we think of as a better fill-in-the-blank than us.
I’m finding in this new schedule of work all day and all week and an hour of traffic per day that it can be effortless to slip into a mindset of getting through the day, getting to lunch, getting to the weekend. And also envying people whose professions don’t require them to be in the office most days or to wake up early every day. But if I believe there’s a purpose for every hour and every minute that I am in a certain place doing a certain task with certain people (which I do), that should mean something for my attitude in every moment I’m at work, every moment I’m at home, every moment I’m with friends and family. I want my attitude to be one that is not only content in the moment, but eager to find what is waiting for me in it. Instead of daydreaming about when I’ll get to go home and spend time outside or eat dinner or the weekend when I’ll be able to sleep in and go to the grocery store (favorite adulthood activity?), I want to be fully aware of what and who is around me and to engage with that. Which I would assume is true for many people- I don’t think we’re programmed to just be zombies moving through life. We want to have jobs we’re passionate about, hobbies that bring us joy, loved ones that lift us up. Stuff that makes our eyes open wide and our lungs breathe deep and our minds just want to take a snapshot of the moment and hold onto it forever.
The thing is, we are all living out this story being written about us. No matter what genre you see your life as right now, chances are it will change genres in time, there will be many peaks and valleys, many subplots and new characters, with other characters and settings fading into previous chapters. I don’t think life should be about making this story worth someone else wanting to read it, making it exciting enough or perfect enough; I think it’s about being an actual participant in life, and sometimes wanting to read the story yourself.
When I read books, I often wish there were more scenes in between the dramatic ones, snapshots of normal life to get to know the characters for more than just those extreme moments in their story. Well, our lives area constant stream of those moments that maybe wouldn’t make the final draft of most novels or even biographies. We are truly the only ones present for every scene, published and not. Friends, family, significant others, and strangers will be there for many of the big scenes, but not all of them, while we are there for every trip to the dentist, every wait for the elevator, every jump into the lake, every smile at a passing stranger, every awkward moment, every unexpected laugh. We often don’t notice at the time that there are moments that add up to give us the sense of a good day, a productive hour, a sweet reunion. I want to be more reflective of those little moments that contribute to the equation throughout the day, to be tuned in to things that made me laugh and made me cringe and made me want to go do more research later and think on it more.
So, how can we be more present in the moment and pay attention to the positive traits of ourselves and others? There’s obvious things like putting away your phone when you’re talking to someone or at a meal, turning away from your computer when a coworker starts a conversation, just generally listening better. And there’s harder things like asking deeper questions and being willing to respond if deeper questions are asked of you (without over sharing), and making time in your day or week for others when normally you might keep that time for yourself. I think it’s also important to have rest activities where we can disengage for a little bit, like watching Netflix or reading a book or surfing the web for your dream car (just me? that’s cool.) or looking for new music. Even if you identify as someone who feels rested from being with others, you still need recharge time on your own. I think we all need that because ultimately it gives us space to reflect. We each are on a path and are called to unique tasks and different places, and it can be hard to discern those things for ourselves if we are constantly just listening to what others are finding joy in and where they are excited to go- we can easily get mixed up in thinking we want that same thing, but maybe if we took time to think on it solo we’d come to a different conclusion.
I want to make decisions that are based on that type of reflection sans outside distraction or influence that goes beyond simple advice. I want to know myself well enough to know how to treat myself well, where I can find rest, and who I want to spend time with (and who I need to spend time with). I think that being a bigger fan of life and loving myself and others well will take adding things to my routine like journaling more regularly and taking that time to reflect and even just record the events of the day, because in that I will be reminded of the high and low points of the day. Mostly I want to be more aware of the significant parts of life, even if they don’t necessarily have a positive or negative value. I know time will continue to go by fast because I’m human and want things to stay the same when they are good, but I don’t want to reach a point and look back and think time went by fast because I didn’t make an effort to smell the flowers and listen to the dorky jokes along the way.
No matter if your day or seemingly life in general is good or bad right now, I hope you know that you’re moving. Toward some things and away from others. Toward some people and away from others. You’re moving forward whether you like it or not, whether you try or not. You’re growing whether you see it or not. Everything you do and every interaction you have contributes to the person you are and will be. And personally, I want to be awake for that process in my own life. So I challenge you to find the places you’re semi-conscious or sleeping through life right now, and find ways to be more present.
Song of the week: Feeling Good, the Michael Bublé version
Book of the week: still Little Women, maybe this week I’ll actually read
Advice of the week: Do not be afraid to go to an estate sale. You might find some quirky mugs and cool old records.
Goals for the week: Run more, cook at home more