On Being and Becoming
Humans are endlessly fascinating creatures. We are the species of conscious choice. We are problem solvers and pleasure seekers. We are aesthetic beings and moral decision makers. And we are complex communicators. We suffer from inertia and are fascinated by innovation. We can contemplate and reflect. We can laugh, cry, scream, whisper, run, throw, build and destroy.
Ironically, our inner software is so complicated, that our most powerful catalyst for change is the reset button.
It’s January 2, 2019. In the last 48 hours, the internet and every social media platform has been inundated by blogs and posts and inspirational quotes about change and maximizing your potential. The name of the game this time of year is how to do better, be better, be more successful, more productive, less neurotic, more influential, and generally to be a much better version of yourself then you currently are - or were - in 2018.
I have to admit, some of the posts were damn good. And I took several of them to heart and even did some of the exercises they recommended so I can be a better version of myself this year than last (Reset button activated). But then I started thinking…at what point do you stop becoming and just enjoy being? At what point do you look around and just be so grateful that you are free and healthy and vulnerable and neurotic and utterly human???
I am a very hard worker. I am also an idealist. I cannot do a job that doesn’t speak to my heart and soul as well as my bank account. But as I read more and more posts, I felt thepressure mounting inside me: Post! Tweet! Create! Build! Play the ’LOOK AT ME! game! Come up with a method with my name attached to it! And my head started to spin.
So I thought a little more (all this of course is happening while I’m doing an 8 mile run). Have you ever sat by the bedside of someone who is facing their mortality head on as you sit there? I have. What do you hear them say? That they wished they had worked more? Nope. Spent more time in the office? Nope. Had more stuff? No way.
What have I heard them say? They wish they had loved more, lived more, forgiven more, prioritized relationships more, cared less about stupid things like how big their neighbors house is compared to theirs or how many social media likes they got, and generally wished they had done a better job of stopping to smell the roses. Cause babe, you can’t take it with you when you go. And that includes those bodies we work so hard to keep in shape.
I’m not telling you to go out there and party like it’s 1999 and ditch your running shoes and ibriefcase for a VW Bus and Cannabis closet. I’m just saying that maybe from time to time, the reset button can restart to the ‘enjoy being’ program, rather than the ‘becoming’ one.
In this regard, I feel very fortunate to have the spiritual structure that I do. As a general rule, I am uncomfortable with any kind of religious proselytizing so this is in no way meant to be taken as such. That being said, in the Jewish tradition, we observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night. On a practical level, that means that we disconnect from cell phones, computers, cars, engaging in business, building, destroying, and other creative processes. Instead, we eat meals with family, read, take walks, talk and sing to G-d, get together with friends that are walking distance (with no cell phones!), get a little extra sleep, study, and enjoy the quiet.
On a spiritual level what are we doing? Six days a week, we are involved in ‘becoming’. One day a week we celebrate just ‘being’. Six days a week we are a creative partner with G-d in making this world a better place. But one day a week, G-d says, “I got this. Everything is under control and just as it should be.” That doesn’t mean the world is perfect. It just means we are perfectly imperfect andthatis just as it should be.
The reset button of a new year can be a lighthouse in the storm of life that allows us to take stock, reassess and reprioritize. But it can also take you out of the here and now. As the saying goes, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a present.”
Sending love to all.