In his book I just finished, “Becoming What You Are,” Alan Watts suggests a change by “letting life live you for a while instead of trying to make yourself live life.”
During this pandemic, I’ve been hearing things — from others and in my head:
“I’ve got to pay more attention.”
“I’ve got to lose some weight.”
“I’ve got to write that book.”
“I’ve got to get a job I like.”
“I’ve got to……” fill in the blank.
I was never a goal-setter — too confining, too limiting. I prefer to be open to opportunity. What if I set a goal and in the process, realize another? Failure of one in pursuit of another?! Sounds kinda hamster wheel-ish. Further, goals tend to live in the repeat zone. Sometimes for years. In the short-term, repetitive self-talk can be an avenue to action as in, “The Little Engine That Could” — “I think I can, I think I can.” In the long-term, however, the effects can be pernicious. When the psyche hears the same intent over and over without ever reaching fruition, it’s got to play a number on self-esteem — either do it, or stop saying it.
For years, I’ve reminded myself to practice awareness. Every day. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. On Thanksgiving Day, as I rushed out the door I noticed the box that held the berry pie I was bringing was undecorated — no ribbon, design, nothing. I hastily drew a hand turkey, like the ones we made in kindergarten.
When I arrived to my destination my friend, Jerome, noticed the image on the box. “That’s sweet. But for future reference, a turkey has only two legs.”
It took a second to digest his words. Then. Oh no. No. I am a college graduate, for crying out loud. Twice. And yet I draw four legs on a turkey?!?! Dead or alive, where have I ever seen four legs on poultry?!?! When I put pen to paper, did I even think about what I was doing?!! Looks more like a female cow-turkey…and drawn with an ‘udder’ lack of attention.
Stunned, I had to laugh. Then I made a mental note to…..
stop repeating to myself that I’m going to live in awareness!
Let life live me for awhile.
“You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo”
– Cat Stevens, “If You Want to Sing Out”