new tricks

It's never too late to change, even for old dogs like me! I just figured out a way to make life more pleasant for myself. It has everything to do with self-talk and questioning arbitrary definitions. 

Have you ever tracked how much of your time is spent on activities our culture defines as getting there vs. being there? Cooking is getting there, eating is being there. Writing is getting there, publishing is being there. Dating is getting there, marriage is being there. Commuting is getting there, working is being there

Using this cultural categorization, "getting there" is by far the largest category of my time usage. But recently it occurred to me that the distinction between getting there and being there was arbitrary and maybe I could just eliminate it for myself. Then I'd just be doing whatever I'm doing -- no comparison or evaluation or measurement of progress toward a destination would be necessary. 

Allow me to illustrate with a real world example from my kitchen: I'm baking, and I realize I'll need a bowl that is nested inside other bowls. The un-nesting process used to annoy me, and I would rush through it feeling aggravated about the delay and extra work. I was not amused by anything that prolonged the getting there process. I wanted to be there, enjoying the smell of brownies wafting through the house.

Instead of getting annoyed I can just take the bowls down, feeling the coldness and heaviness of the glass, hearing the clink they make against each other, and retrieve the one I need. When I decide to savor the activity of baking, not just the outcome, I don't mind if it takes a little longer. Even unexpected parts of the process can be enjoyable, so what's the rush? 

As I play with this I notice that there are particular clues that tell me I've slipped back into the habit of distinguishing between getting there and being there:  annoyance, frustration, speeding up my pace of activity, scheming short cuts, a sense of urgency or falling behind, looking at the clock a lot and calculating how long it's taking, and less singing (yes, singing! when I'm enjoying myself I sing, haha). 
When I notice one of those happening, I just exhale fully and warmly invite myself to slow down and find something to enjoy about whatever I'm doing in that moment. What works well for you?


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