I’m living a double life.
One exists in a world of material things, worries; the one most see. This life is the sort of world that’s been constructed around us by ego and the struggle for power. It’s the world that says the mindless shows on television are important; that we should seek money or notoriety; and pulls us into a substance-less existence. In this world, I’m covered in bills from the hospital, the water company, my phone carrier… Everything costs something. Even living costs us our lives.
But once I saw that life for what it is, I opened the door to another Life. The one above the noise. One that’s being revealed to me, bit by bit, and welcoming me as I uncover more of the truth about myself and about what truly matters.
Being diagnosed as +ANA was a wake-up call; it showed me exactly the amount of stress we are under living in the material world. My body essentially felt so threatened, so much under attack, that it started to fight back.
Against what? It didn’t know.
But fight it did. My own body, under all the weight of the material world, started to attack the only thing it could: itself.
Isn’t that the pits?
But it makes sense – it’s what happens to us all every day, as we stress ourselves and break ourselves and put so much of ourselves into the material world, there is a price to be paid.
The smash-hit television shows that are tweeted and hash-tagged are distractions, designed to convince us that we’re participating in something. The excitement, exhilaration, or anxiety we feel from watching these shows are all a figment. It’s all prefabricated delusion. Our favorite characters are carefully chosen to appeal to us. The soundtracks force emotion onto us. The storylines are fantastical. And the emotion evoked is not genuine. Our brains know these things as fact, but simply knowing doesn’t exempt any of us from the effects. That’s because our bodies don’t discern; stress is stress is stress.
And then, after having sat for one or two hours, we’re convinced we’ve done something. “Well, everyone else is watching this, so I’m part of a group.” And any body would agree; there’s no way it could feel that much stress – excitement, anxiety, or anticipation – without having done something, right?
Wrong. It’s a distortion of reality.
It’s all just noise. And it spews at us from speakers and wide screens and billboards and clothing… we’re surrounded by noise, and it’s just a matter of turning it off, tuning it out, rising above.
We could be spending more time taking care of ourselves and our individual worlds and cultivating lives of substance that we can truly enjoy. It just takes prioritizing.
I learned that there is time to enjoy life, once I saw the noise for what it was and made the conscious decision to turn some of it off. And it kind of amazed me how easy it was to cut things out once I looked at what they were doing either for or against me. My food choices, for example, had been much-improved in the months leading up to my time in the hospital, but now I take so much more responsibility for what I put into my body (juicing to add nutrients, making dinner with fresh ingredients, learning about healthier substituted). Instead of being wrapped up in outside events, I refocused on what’s essential – my health – and devote energy to that.
And we’ve turned meals into a truly-enjoyable experience in our house. We put on the classical station or some old records, maybe pour a glass of wine, and work together to create something we will later enjoy and be nourished by. Talk about a satisfying experience.
I find the most fulfillment (and then success) when I’m engaged fully, devoting my energy to a higher goal (in the case of making dinner: health), being fully present in each moment, and making the best decision for every step. And the positive effects ripple out to my relationship, my animals, my home, and my job.
The same idea applies to anything in life, if you ask me. When I have a goal, if I’m true to that aim and stay on course, I’ll get there. But it requires actual focus, not the televised version of the story… you know, where we spend more time trying to look the part & less time actually being it… (or becoming it)
It’s that area between the appearance and the substance that makes all the difference. When I stopped mucking about with the distractions and devoted my energy to actually being what I wanted to be – healthy, more authentic, more kind, more fit, more centered – my life changed completely.
Instead of lying to myself about the importance of events (looking at you, Superbowl) and devoting energy to inconsequential activity, i actively look for ways to improve my world. And there are opportunities to do so, even in the smallest ways: I value substantial health, not simply looking good, which has turned meals into all-encompassing experiences; I want a comfortable home, so I take time to care for it, which allows Jelaine and me to enjoy our time, or even tackle cleaning together, strengthening our relationship; and I want her to be her best, so I look for ways to help her, like using my time to wash clothes instead of sit around; I like to make *stuff* so I crochet and sketch ideas and tinker with things (let’s all have a hobby!); I want to be a source of encouragement for people, so I’ve started taking time to reach out and catch up and just be my unabashed, happy self… a self that was drowned out by the noise for a long time.
I want a life that reflects the joy and creativity and love inside me, and the pursuit of those fills me just as much as the achievement.
[And it amazes me how “chores” have turned into acts of love that serve a larger purpose, and then become enjoyable, when I look at them from this perspective.]
By simplifying my foci (that’s the plural of “focus,” for anybody else who forgot that term from high school math), I could evaluate and redirect where my energy goes. Then I give my love, attention, dedication to those things, and all the noise seems to disappear.
Sometimes, when I’m really in the zone, I feel like a spectator in the noisy world – I move through it, interacting with the people and events that try to impress upon me, but I come through untouched, unphased by the nonsense and continue on my way. However, I find myself more able to “be myself” and have improved the quality of interactions with people once I detached from the outside and refocused on my inside.
Just because the noise exists doesn’t require that we live in it.
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This idea was creeping up my spine all day Friday, so I sat down and tried to put it into words (no, that’s not how I really write):