“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
I was slipping deeper into a dark spiral after my fortieth birthday, looking for anything to grab onto and pull myself out of the darkness. Some said I was having a midlife crisis, but I believe it was actually the beginning of an awakening for me. For the sake of argument, I’ll call it a midlife awakening.
This by no means meant that I understood the meaning of life and was all of a sudden enlightened and happy—quite the contrary. I was seeing for the first time the “me” that everyone else saw and had no idea who that person was or wanted to be.
Try as I might, I could not remember much about my thirties. I know worked a lot and was raising my daughters as well as coaching; I was staying busy but definitely not living. I became numb to my surroundings: feeling no pain, no happiness, nothing but a big empty hole inside.
Still, the real wakeup call came after returning to school as a forty year old. Working on an assignment for a speech class I watched a video tape of an overweight, sad, negative person.
This led me toward the beginning of my journey and the first challenge was to rid myself of negativity. It was a journey to be positive and learn how to “live” my life as each moment presents itself to me.
Setting out on a quest to find a spiritual balance that was not tied to labels and judgment, the biggest test was still being around people that knew the old me as I continued my transformation. It’s easy to get dragged back into old habits and feelings, so I separated myself from as many “triggers” as I could.
In 2007 after my youngest daughter turned twenty-one, I made the decision to separate and later divorce, since the relationship was a major source of negativity.
I was nineteen when this relationship started, so I never had a chance to know myself and, as selfish as it sounds, I needed to know me. One of the first things I learned was that I did not know how to be alone. As a matter of fact, this was my first time in my life with my own apartment.
There was a lot of reading and soul searching going on and still going on, but little by little I got better at being me.
In the fall of 2009 I met my soul mate, and although I previously said I would never marry again, in June of 2010 I asked and she accepted. We once wondered why we couldn’t have met sooner in our lives, but I know the answer is that we were not the people we are today, so it would not have been the same.
I have never pretended to possess all the answers but I do freely give some advice when the opportunity arises, especially when people bring a child into the world. That is not take one moment for granted and enjoy their child or grandchild every chance they have.
We spend so much time being busy and not enough time just being.
I rarely look at the news, television, or read a newspaper because many times when I do I feel bad, and common sense tells me if something feels bad, don’t do it.
Outside of work I try to surround myself with positive, good hearted people and do activities that help keep me centered.
Exercise and running have become my best centering activities. Trail running particularly meets all of this criteria because it seems to draw these people, and if you run a rocky, root bound, hilly trail you had better be in the moment.
There are moments that I know are gone forever and I can’t go back and try again to live them. I will strive to live every minute I am afforded and try to share what I have learned with anyone who is willing to listen.
My intent is to pass on my love for the beauty and serenity of nature and the satisfaction of learning from everyone we meet along the way.
I would love to tell you that I live in complete peace and harmony all the time now and I have my life in perfect order. But that wouldn’t be true. Still, living is a more positive and open-minded process now and I feel like I am a better person—one who does not have to be faultless.
Also by having a more positive group of friends, I have help on the days when the ego wants the negative side to make an appearance.
As our responsibilities grow it is increasingly easy to retreat into busy mode, overloading our senses, and lose touch with those around us.
Staying busy as a defense mechanism leaves you stagnant; not growing, not solving anything, and not living your life. It is the equivalent of looking the other way and thinking that if you don’t see something it is not real.
I try to remind myself to cherish every moment I am given with my family, friends, and people I care about. I fight the urge to excuse myself from experiences, from this moment, because if I tell someone “I’m just too busy” I will never get that time back.
I read somewhere that if you stick your hand in a river you can never touch the same water twice, because by the time you stick your hand back in the water has moved on. It is like that with time and being busy simply for the sake of being busy; once that moment is gone you can never get it back.
Happy guy image via Shutterstock