Day 27: Slow down, live in the present, and live.July 9, 2012 9:27 am Leave your thoughts
Fourteen hours. We have fourteen hours until we reach Taos, NM, and I’m sitting in my usual seat, staring blankly out the window. I never do this. As someone with an A-type personality, I’m always doing something. Rarely do I give myself a minute to reflect, to process my thoughts and connect with my surroundings. Even so, I can’t help thinking, “I should be spending this time making videos for our blog, sending emails to coordinate events or updating pages on our website.” But should I? Why am I always guilt tripping myself into doing more work than is necessary? Why do I always feel like I need to be doing something “productive?” Because that’s what I’ve been taught is right. I remember following my mother around as a child, watching her tackle multiple things on the go. There was always something she had to do, somewhere she had to be. And when I was old enough to drive I adopted the same mentality. And I’m not alone. Americans everywhere have embraced a fast-paced lifestyle, fueled by convenience, abundance and overstimulation. We’ve been trained to move from one thing to the next without taking the time to reflect on what we’ve already done. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to extract meaning from our day-to-day activities because we don’t give much thought to why we’re doing them in the first place. In fact, most of what we know and do represents what we’ve learned from someone else, usually a higher authority. By no means is this a bad thing, but it does beg the question – are our thoughts and actions really our own, or is much of what we do influenced by what other people expect of us?
Traveling around on the bus is by no means relaxing – we are usually hopping from one event to the other, cleaning the bus as its moving, prepping workshops and hour-long shifts, and eating in short increments because we don’t have time for a sit down meal. Yet, I’ve developed a better sense of self-awareness so far this summer, more so than I’ve ever allowed myself. The wonderful individuals I’m traveling with this summer and many of the others I’ve met on the road have shown me that living in the moment is much more fulfilling than constantly thinking about the future. I’d never really given this much thought until we accidentally drove 3 hours out of our way into South Carolina. Parked at the incorrect riverhead, we decided to picnic in the grass just outside of the bus. For some reason we were convinced that we would be able to find the correct riverhead (in North Carolina) before white-water rafting hours were over. This meant that we would have to stuff our faces and pile back into the bus to get moving again ASAP. But was this really necessary? Maya didn’t know. She gave us two scenarios – we could either take time to enjoy a sit down lunch on the beautiful piece of land we unintentionally stumbled upon or we could rush ourselves and drive another 3+ hours for an activity that was most likely not going to happen. We chose to drive, and not surprisingly, we didn’t make it in time to raft. We could have been content with a time to recuperate, reflect and bond, but instead we were consumed with the promises of a future activity.
Being present is not something I’m particularly good at. In fact, I was one of the major advocates for skipping the picnic for the possibility of rafting. But I’m learning. And as I sit on the bus staring out the window, I have to remind myself that I need this. I need time to think to myself, collect my thoughts and evaluate the little things I do on a day-to-day basis. Are my actions on the Bus reflective of the message I’m trying to spread across the country? Am I representing the internal values I identify with most strongly? Am I doing things that are improving the happiness level of others? Of myself? Have I acted selfishly (usually a yes)? These questions, although difficult to answer and admit to, have given me solace. And even though I know I will remain a hyperactive go-getter, I promise to schedule time to reconnect with the things that sustain me as an individual – relationships, knowledge, music, dancing, discussion, exercise, the outdoors, sunshine, positivity and encouragement, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (Kelly, you da bomb!), and so so much more.