Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Changing my Life Rhythm to Live in the Moment

The activity of life swirls around me. People, hustling and bustling in every direction, are engaged in a thousand important tasks. Business networking, social calls, sales meetings, and determined phone calls dominate the interior of the coffee shop while outside shiny metal cars and trucks hint at even more destinations as people navigate life.

In the midst of this activity I sit, seemingly removed from the action. Eavesdropping, I can simultaneously acknowledge how trivial and important each conversation is. A small business working to arrange for the best deal on wholesale supply. Two middle-ages ladies talking fashion and family. Texting, tweeting, and phone calls illuminating thoughts (just as I do). Our natural pessimism and optimism equally take turns embracing the futility and opportunity of it all.

Is it all arbitrary? Is what matters so specific that what may appear to be the most important topic of the day to one is routine and boring to the other?

I sit, unaware of any connection I may have with these people other than being in the same temporal space, and the same genetic makeup, as them.

Yet, I also know that should I approach any one of them, connections could be made, similarities found, and common ground had despite the seeming randomness.

Over this past weekend Amanda and I sat around a breakfast table with four other people, strangers who happened to be staying at the same bed and breakfast at the same time. Strangers, with the uncomfortable silence that often accompanies close proximity with those unawares. The spark of a single extrovert opened the conversation, and soon small talk began connecting dots and leading to amazed exclamations of how small the world was. Two sisters, one helping the other move across the country grew up in the same small Indiana town of Madison that my Mom's family is from. I'm sure our families are aware of each other, and have been, even if we were sitting in this dining room halfway across the country unawares. Another couple, on vacation from St. Louis, had come to explore Arizona wine country, just as we were. Not only was there a mutual interest, but a mutual career choice as ICU registered nurses for both Amanda and the wife from Missouri. Another point of contact and conversation.

Such connections happen every day, yet they too can seem coincidental or providential. Do we respond with amazement, or indifference to such acts?

Do such casual connections masquerade as relationship, or is the commonality of human beings in small talk the basis for community? Do I approach and enjoy these moments, or grow weary of talking about superficial things? Is my heart attuned to hope or pragmatism?

Meeting another couple through asking them to take our picture in front of the beautiful red rocks of the Sedona horizon, we learned a bit of a common enjoyment of scenery. After the brief ten minute conversation, the departing words from them were, "Have a good life!" Such a statement inspires hope from my despair: somehow, these moments are exactly what adds spice to our existence. Returning from this trip to a mundane existence of sleep, eat, walk the dog, rush hour traffic, office work, return rush hour, eat, and house chores brings the flip side of the coin. Time alone is as important as time with others, but yet it can also lead to the realization that the natural rhythm of daily life is not as you would have it.

I sit in the midst of the daily swirl of activity. I wonder as to the rhythms and opportunities that surround me, while similarly knowing my desires for a different rhythm as well. Amanda and I understand such a funk, a rut, in living a professional life filled with responsibilities to repay and too little time for the fresh interactions with strangers and friends alike. Even while we feel proactive in reaching out to others, schedules misaligned prevent frequent connection. Understandable, yet still unfulfilled expectations. If not this person, then who? Should not one of the hundreds be willing to respond, and am I not recognizing what responses have already been had?

To break from the monotonous and turn it into the freeing rhythm of opportunity and purpose is what is desired. To live as if this moment is all there is, which is the only truth we can fully grasp. Abstracts and universals can overwhelm us into forgetting where we are, while they still do provide framework for our every impulse.

Life swirls, yet feels separated from my existence today. The only question that remains is how to be the change that shifts me back into the moment to engage today with the vigor of possibility and of hope.

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