I can’t wait until … I lose five pounds … I finish this project … the house is clean … I graduate from college … my child can walk…. and the list goes on. What are we missing?
Last week I read “On Process,” an article by Thomas Knauer in the May/June 2018 issue of modern patchwork published by Fon’s and Porter. It reminded me how often we are in a rush to get to an end, barely experiencing the process. With our instant push-button technology, we seem to live our lives on quick, finished images. While creating, it is always in the process that we get lost. Our greatest serene moments are found in being present in the moment. But, we seem pushed to hurry up …. and wait.
As a professor, I often watched students coming into college as first year students, so anxious for the 4 (or more years) to fly by so that they could start their “lives.” However, as seniors, they began to realize that the many moments of college life were ending. Many spent time reflecting upon the time in their lives that immersed them in a world of their peers and a host of interests and activities. As a parent, I remember being impatient for my child to reach the next milestone. As a grandparent, I want the developmental process to slow down.
So, what do we do? Can we learn to be present in the moment and relish the process, rather than feel a sense of heightened stress until the goal has been met? I say that we can. But, how?
One thing I am trying is to stop and focus only on the particular triangle I am cutting, or the colors of the mint fabric against the grays on the palette. When my brain says, “Hurry,” I say, “Why?” So, yes. I spend time daily talking to my inner voice. (I sincerely hope you have one, because otherwise you will be reporting me to the nearest agency for mental health counseling). I turn my phone off while I’m in a process. I often use music to enhance my experience. And when the “chattering monkeys” (yes, that’s what I call those voices) creep back in, I say, “Not now.”
We can also put those moments into our daily journey. When outside, stop and look at the shades of color that are in the sky at that moment; pause and really look at a leaf or a flower, noting the intricacy; truly listen to the sounds that surround you, even if it is a lawn mower or a cement mixer! The more often we practice stopping and really listening, the more we build that ability to focus.
I continue to find that we are surrounded by images of beautiful, finished products, or incredibly beautiful prose. We rarely see the multitude of stops and starts, the rejected attempts, or the boxes of paper with a huge number of rewrites on each page. So my photo presents not only the pieces of a quilt in process, but also my process of learning to use a new camera. I could have waited until I had the perfect image, studied the manual, edited 100 attempts. However, I wanted you to know that I am being quite brave just throwing out a less than spectacular image. Although it does not seem comfortable, I wanted to just throw that out there. Yet another attempt to focus on the process.
So … I hope today as you are going through the day you take a few moments to stop and focus on the moment. This morning, I even focused on the sound of crumbs as they crept up the vacuum hose! (lol).
Thus, go forth and STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN.