I have a six-item list in my phone designed to help me live my life with intention. It is:
- Choose to see things with love, not fear
- Behave in a way that is authentic for me
- Detach from outcomes
- Stop arguing with reality
- Wait and see
- Pursuit = theft of the present moment
Sometimes, I’m really good at remembering all of the above. Other times, I completely depart from this way of thinking, sending my brain off the rails with questions and anxieties. That I’m writing this post at all should tell you that I’m currently in the latter situation. The mind I spent so much time retraining to be calm and focused is constantly telling me stories about people and things in my life, stories that don’t line up with how I want things to be.
Lately I find myself attached to ideas about what should happen — what I should have, how I should be, how my life should look — and how I can make it happen. I leapfrog right over love, imagining the worst possible outcome for every situation I care about. I desperately want things. I want them while knowing I can’t be certain they’re even right for me — and knowing from experience that the best things in my life have often sidled up to me while I was distracted by something else.
My life works best when I accept that there’s a bigger plan for me and stop trying to control everything. (As I joked on Twitter a few weeks ago, “Please, please, please let me, let me, let me, let me get what I want this time, but without my energy coming across as manipulative.”) But lately, I just can’t get there. I have Ideas about what I want, and I struggle to put them down. This leaves me with the sense, much of the time, that I’m waiting for things to come to fruition, which gets in the way of actually living my life. I obsess over situations that are out of my hands. I’m always asking “What if?” instead of reveling in what is.
I find sporadic pockets of relief in the form of activities like meditation and distance running. I recently started practicing reclining meditation, and I’ve noticed that the second my head hits the pillow, my concerns seem to drift away, putting me back in my right mind. But even this is just another external solution to an internal problem. I struggle to get back to a place where clearheadedness is the norm and the fog an outlier.
The hardest part is feeling like I’m unable to be myself. I constantly feel like I’m putting on a play of sorts, as though embodying a certain character will bring on the outcome I desire. As though I just need to sing loudly enough and the person I’m trying to reach will hear me. As though any of this, as though anything, is within my control at all.