“Life is 10% what we plan and 90% how we react to what happens.” This quote has been sitting in my mind lately as many of our usual routines, plans, and daily activities have been altered and modified, perhaps permanently. In this time, the change can seem both abrupt and disarming – challenging our ability to calmly accept the disruption. However, if your attention is focused on being in every moment, the change is not something to fight and resist, but something to engage with and explore.
For me, this was made abundantly clear roughly a year ago when I decided to step away from a job that was emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. A job where I had all the warning signs of depression and burnout, but stuck it out for potential financial security and out of a desire to control what I could (my workload, my schedule, my reputation). Obvious result was burnout and depression. I had to quit my job despite the fact that I was good at what I did.
After taking time to get to a better mental, emotional, and physical state, I have been figuring out what to do next. Using a new daily routine that, even prior to home quarantines and shelter-in-place rules, involved being up with the kids for breakfast, finding time to be outside and doing daily (for the most part) meditation. But this routine also involved a ton of uncertainty for me because I had lost control of those things that supported me earlier – schedule, workload, reputation – and I wasn’t sure what to do next, how to spend my time, or what pillars of my personal values should be prioritized to make sure my time was spent in a way that fulfilled me.
Getting through this required me to refocus on those things that made me happy and engaged. Finding people and efforts that refilled me, rather than took away from my reserves. In that, I had to follow my curiosity which required living more moment by moment. As Elizabeth Gilbert referenced in her Super Soul Discussion, it doesn’t need to be a passion, start with curiosity. Allowing thought and effort on things that I previously didn’t have time for (we have fantastic state parks here in the US, local charities help great people, drawing and art do wonders or the mind), allowed me to broaden my expectation of what life should have in it. While much of this time involved talking with others about what they are doing and how their jobs and hobbies filled their lives, it allowed me to see a range of possible options that I had never seen before. It also helped me see the value of what are now considered non-traditional vocations (just a few… surfboard builder, body/medicine worker, farmer, CBD gumdrop maker). People getting lost in the flow of what they were making or doing and how the moments of creation and interaction fueled them on. In this time of uncertainty, living in the moment matters more than ever. As they say depression is looking in the past, anxiety is looking in the future, and the only thing you can really hold and appreciate on a concrete basis is now, the very moment we are currently living! Many people are starting to realize this with zoom happy hours, impromptu family dinners on the living room rug, taking up a lost hobby (ukulele lessons, anyone?), and reconnecting with neighbors and family. We should be doubling down on these moments. In each of these moments, you might find the inspiration to expand your life in a way that defies the small and ordinary encounter that lead to the inspiration.