Remember the carefree days of just being a kid and you didn't have a worry in the world? What did you like to do? How did you spend your days? Recently, that's what I've been thinking about.
Do you live playful and carefree today? Or is it all about stress and email and meetings and worry and bills and retirement and keeping up with your neighbors and looking good for your friends and other people?
What happened to the days when none of that mattered? Or at least, wasn't the guiding emotion for the majority of hours of our days?
Recently, my life took a turn and I, or, as Jenny Blake would call it in her new book, a pivot, when I left my safe, fun, career as the Director of Marketing & Communications with a sports-industry non-profit. It was fun. It was a good job. It also crept into all areas of my life. No boundaries were left unbroken.
It involved a lot of travel. It included a lot of "play" - sorta. But it was also driving me nuts. It was making me sick. I couldn't focus. I was constantly distracted. The to-do list never seemed to shorten. The email never stopped. The meetings never clarified action or direction or purpose or mission. It was exhausting.
As Andrew Sullivan writes in My Distraction Sickness in last month's NY Mag, information overload led to quitting his job, developing a meditation practice and return to an ability to live life in an offline world.
So, as Sullivan put it, I merely quite doing. I quit the striving and the achievement. I quit the two-hour daily commute. I quit the strategic plans. I quit the office politics. I quit the expectation to respond to email 24/7. I followed my heart and left. I was honest with why. I helped transition as I could.
I gave up on the expectations of others. I abandoned my striving to impress others. I wouldn't say that I gave up, but rather surrendered my objectives and aims to create space and time for the flow of life and the universe to enter into me.
And today, my life looks a lot like play in many ways.
I read a lot (join my online book club if you would?)
As a kid, I used to burn wet twigs with stolen matches and make fires with soggy moss, the smell today still takes me back to those days. These days, I apply these skills in productive manners whether backcountry or training. I volunteer with a search & rescue group where we practice, train and learn survival techniques such as this. What was rebellion has turned practical. But it's still one of the most enjoyable things I do.
I used to ride bikes & run freely. Today, I ride road bikes for exercise, training and to get quiet. Sorta similar to what I do with long-distance running. Last month I attempted my first 50K trail run.
For so long, I had merely followed aimlessly the ways of the world, climbed the corporate ladder, viewed success as defined by what others thought and ulitmately had been broken by a never-ending bombardment of technology that invaded every area of my life and time-and-time-again tore through every boundary I set. My life had become destroyed by an utter lack of any work-life balance.
Today I prioritize work as play. I view work as a function to allow space & time & resources for other things such as experiences, volunteering & impacting others. I recently got myself a little job. It's part-time, flexible hours and we'll see how it goes.
I'm working on writing the stories I'd like to read and sharing the message that there is more to life than all of this worldly clamor - more to life than to the commute, sitting at a desk all day, commute and do it over and over again.
There are different ways to do life. Have faith and live the life you want to live.