I keep myself pretty tightly organized in terms of projects and scheduling. The core of my days revolves around my family and my work, but I have many “extracurricular” pursuits – spirituality, the build of a software-as-a-service product, this blog, music, landscaping, weight loss, and so on. All these come with goals, hopes, and expectations – the slurry of ego and good intentions.
That’s a wonderful thing. There was a time in my life when I did nothing but work and recover, thinking of myself as a good provider to mentally justify the suffering of the dreaded rut. Being a person now of many interests, every interest is a way of making sure my awareness doesn’t constrict down to a particular arena I play in. To have only a single pursuit in your life is to create a life poorly lived – a life of addiction and misery.
If you wear many hats, you’re less likely to start thinking you’re a hat. I hope you’re a person of many interests too.
Even the goals are somewhat of a helpful thing – setting out on a hike, to know your objective is the top of the hill sets up a framework for your mind to auto-pilot through many decisions. But goals are also a trap of awareness, because if you mentally abandon the hike for the top of the hill you will be unaware of the wonderful scenes of nature that you’ll pass through. You don’t want the entire hike itself to be on auto-pilot. If it is, then you might as well have not taken a hike.
It’s important to have pursuits and it’s inevitable that those come with goals. Yet, we must be continually on guard against sleep; we must avoid the trap of living in the future. Otherwise, the pursuits are meaningless. Enjoyable pursuits are the only kind; every other “pursuit” is just empty activity.
Not the “enjoyment” of gluttony or addiction, no, nor the “enjoyment” that comes through vicarious living. No, that bliss of mindfulness – where every step taken on the hike is a treasure of eternity. Where the singing of the birds and the light mist of the morning penetrates deeply into your awareness and you become at least as much those things as you are the objective of the top of the hill.
Yes, brush your teeth with the idea of having dental hygiene. But enjoy each stroke of the brush – be there fully with it. Otherwise you will not have truly brushed your teeth.
Yes, clean your house with the idea of having empty space and mental lightness. But enjoy each scrubbing of the floor and do it joyfully, worshipfully, or you will not truly have cleaned.
Do everything fully present. Make a meditation of your music, of your work, of your time with your family. Enjoy your time shopping for groceries and at church. So long as you get upset if you don’t accomplish your goals or if you’re interrupted, you’re a ghost.
If you achieve everything you intend but aren’t mentally present as you go through the growing pains, you will have in truth accomplished nothing. If you don’t achieve anything on your list but have remained fully alive as you tried – ah, well then, dear hearts, you will have accomplished everything.