During my last stay at the Dharma Ranch in San Marcos I bought a t-shirt with their tagline “Life Wide Awake”. I love that phrase and everything it represents. Certainly we are all walking through life thinking, doing, and being during our waking hours. Aren’t we already awake?
Think about all the times you were at a lecture and you didn’t really get what was being said because you were already planning your next event in your head or stuck on the terrible day you had at work. Or, that time you were listening to a friend and upon the close of the conversation you had no idea what was actually said. Even better, if you are a parent, your kid tells you something very important and asks for feedback, yet you were checking your phone at the time and didn’t catch but two words they said. Feels absolutely horrible to be in that moment when we realize that we weren’t really present for the event or the person that we hold important in our lives.
I just painted a picture of life wide asleep. Sure, during these times we may be up and functioning, but our minds are elsewhere, not in the presence of what’s actually happening. No worries. We are all in good company. Our minds wander. Without training and practice, it will continue to wander. What would happen if I painted a story of life wide awake? The presence we missed while we here wandering will open doors to more fulfillment, personal satisfaction, and joy.
I’m quite familiar with this living life wide awake versus living life wide asleep continuum. I mean, we’re human, so aren’t we all? The colloquial phrase, “The struggle is real” is, well, very real.
I realized that I was imbalanced on his continuum the other day when I had an insight that I have been so focused on my goals, that I lost sight of enjoying the process and being engaged in the present to get there that I was pushing through trying to just get to the endpoint. The affect it had on me was clear – I was moody, serious (like way beyond my focused serious), and very rigid. I became disturbed every time something interrupted my goal as it felt like I was taking a step back instead a step forward.
I had in essence, lost touch with the process. I’m a health and wellness educator. I know how important the goal process is compared to the goal achievement. No matter how many years I practice this tool of “being in the process, being in the present” I still fall flat on my face when all of life’s gifts overwhelm my system. I had become so rigid achieving my goal that I stopped listening to music, singing, dancing, doing my art, and well, writing just for the fun of it! My sparkle began to fizzle.
It struck me the other day that I had to pick myself back up off the ground and recalibrate. So, what did I do? Instead of going for a run, I listened to music while on a walk and I forced myself to begin a new art piece. I was saying that I didn’t have time, but it was clear that my sparkle was generated from the music, from the art, and from the dance. Those two actions helped me get a newfound sense of “Life Wide Awake” again.
As I was driving in my car taking my son and his friends to their baseball practice I rolled the window down and listened to music (instead of another podcast that motivated me to keep reaching for my goals). With the window down, the breeze danced in the car matching the melody of the music. I took a deep breath, briefly closing my eyes at the stoplight, and felt the breeze in a completely new way. I was so present to the smell, and the way it felt on my face and my hair, I experienced such satisfaction and joy in those few seconds.
And, I connected with my son and his friends in a new way as we laughed about the tortious car ride to the fields due to heavy traffic, sharing with them that I knew they were going to be bouncing off the walls with excitement on their way to the ball field. Everyone laughed. Well, it was a seriously and unusually long car ride to the fields. Yet, for me, the car ride was transformative. I was finally present, again, to the music, the breeze, and the boredom of the kids in the car, and to the utter joy of being a witness to all of them.
My heart had truly missed the process of living life wide awake. This was a huge step in picking myself back up off the ground and gaining a new balance on the continuum of life. As my fingers touched the orange, purple, and red hues on the blank canvass the other night, I noticed that the sparkle began to shift my being wide awake again.
Love the process AND trust that it will get you to exactly where you intend to go. That is living life wide awake.
Have an awesomesauce day! ~ Athea