I don’t know about you, but I’ve been surprised by how I’ve been handling pandemic life.
I thought I’d feel calmer.
I thought I’d do it, well, better.
But I’m not calmer and I’m not doing it better at all.
Instead, somehow my mind has been remarkably persistent thus far about trying to translate “stay at home” to mean “put my whole life on hold” and then convince me it is right.
And unfortunately, my mind never shies away from a good argument. It loves to argue! And debate! And get really worked up about things!
If I don’t want to debate it during the day when we’re both awake, it waits until I fall asleep and then wakes me right back up again. I call this the “debate sneak attack.” If it times things just right, my mind can have me gridlocked in a heavyweight debate before I even realize I’m conscious.
But then in the mornings I get it back by meditating. If it interrupts my slumbers, it has to pay a toll. The toll is to suffer through my morning meditation, affirmations and prayers.
Recently I’ve started – at least when I can remember to do this – using part of my morning meditation time to set an intention for my day. It really helps, although I’m not sure exactly why or how it helps as of yet.
Especially because most of the intentions I set aren’t very glamorous. Here is an example: “get out of bed.” See?
But some of my intentions have actually been pretty good lately, like the one that I set this morning.
Or rather, it kind of set itself inside of me – an intuitive intention, if you will. While I was meditating, I asked myself what I would most like to see happen today that would be really helpful and this is what popped into my awareness:
Patience. Presence. Productivity.
Good one, right?
So then I settled in to make my mind meditate on these three words and how they might fit into pandemic life and why I need them in my life today. And here is what I learned.
Do you know right away when you have gotten impatient? I do.
One telltale way I know I’m impatient is when I start dropping things. I especially know I’m impatient is when the things I drop then spill all over the counter or floor or table because I have been too impatient to screw the caps on tightly enough.
This morning I spilled my allergy medication. Then I spilled my water. Then my floss slipped off the shelf (I swear all on its own!) and fell on the floor.
Patience. Patience to remember that this, too, is part of the journey and the experience of being alive today.
Patience to stop and make sure the floss is actually on top of the shelf (and not teetering on the very edge of the shelf). Patience to screw the tops on each of my bottles after taking my morning medications and supplements. Patience to fill my water bottle and then tighten the top completely so that 64 ounces of fresh water don’t end up turning my laptop desk into tiny castle surrounded by a moat.
Patience to realize that even a pandemic can come bearing gifts, if only I don’t rush past the unorthodox giver and fling myself headlong into lazy/busy-ness because that is just what I do (or have done in the past) when things aren’t going according to my plans and I get really anxious or depressed about it.
Presence actually first came up as “present” – as in, “staying present.” I must be. here. now. Right here. Right now. Not somewhere else. Not in the future. Not in the past. HERE.
When I was little I adored Star Wars (truth: I still adore Star Wars, even those sucky pre-quels).
I fell head over heels for Luke Skywalker, the dreamer who was always looking to the future. Never his mind on where he is, what he is doing. Yoda had a tough job with that one.
He would have struggled to mentor me too. Staying present to what is unfolding right now is hugely challenging for me. Usually I am somewhere in my future, surveying the smoking ruins I automatically assume my present is even now creating for me.
Occasionally, if my affirmations are working a little better than usual, I am in my future surveying something else that is a little better.
But regardless, it is very rare to catch me in my present. Yet this is exactly what pandemic life requires. I need to stay in my present, and not just to make sure I have guesstimated the six-foot rule with a reasonable level of respectful correctness.
I need to stay in my present because I am still creating my life one moment at a time. Nothing has changed there. Here. Now. In fact, that will never change. Which means there is no time like the (er) present to learn how!
Productivity is an interesting word, isn’t it! When you think of the word “productivity,” what definition springs to mind?
Most of the definitions I can find online are pretty lame. The definition I like best talks about productivity as a measure of output for a measure of input. In the definition itself, they are talking about crops.
But I realized that, technically speaking, output could be anything – whatever you want it to be.
In the same way, input could be time, energy, money, creativity, raw materials, ideas, you name it.
As I should have already learned much better than I’ve actually learned, productivity doesn’t happen when I am not present. It certainly doesn’t happen when I am not patient.
But when I can manage to remain both patient and then present, productivity unfolds almost by itself. And not only that, but it feels really, well, productive!
When I am patient and present, I can intuit – feel, sense – in my gut and not my mind – what needs doing RIGHT. NOW.
In other words, I don’t get caught up in what might need doing later or what I should have been doing up until now. I just do the next right thing. I take the next right step. I feel good about that right thing and that next step.
I feel confident I am making choices that are wise and relevant to this one single unrepeatable moment that is happening right here and now.
With great respect and love,