Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!!

I know that I’ve been absent a lot of late, real life issues have kept me pretty busy, on several fronts. Despite being busy, I know the real reason I’ve been away is that I’ve not felt particularly creative, in fact if the truth is known I’ve pretty much been just “Pickin ‘em up… and Puttin ‘em down

Which is, of course, a euphemism for just going through the motions… I first heard it in boot camp, when a drill instructor told me I wasn’t there to enjoy the process, and to just keep “Pickin ‘em up… and Puttin ‘em down” as we continued on our march.

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in waiting rooms, doctors offices and hospitals.. all of which redefines ‘patient’ in ways I’d never really fully pondered in the past. I don’t know where I found the patience to not simply strangle one of the doctors with 180 degree opposing positions on my wife’s condition… or how I managed to stay calm and demand both ‘professionals’ get in the room with us and decide who was right instead of leaving it to us to figure out.

Somehow, we got through these past few months… and I’m 100% convinced 2006 was our ‘turning point’ year. That in 2007 and going forward we’ll be healthier… and stay that way… that’s how I face the fear of the alternative, I simply refuse to let it be a part of my reality set.

Over the months though, I’ve had quite a bit of time for reflection, introspection, and I think I’ve discovered some things, about me, and maybe about finding joy in life, even when some folks would say you had nothing to be happy about.

There’s an old Zen proverb that goes something like this:

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

I’ve always taken this to mean, regardless of your ‘state of enlightenment’, life itself continues. (If you find yourself totally intrigued by the proverb, you can spend several years researching its meaning as entire books have been written about its meaning.)

A friend of mine asked me recently how it was I’ve been able to not be out riding (on the motorcycle) when I get so much enjoyment from doing so. (For those of you new to the blog, prior to 2002, my wife and I were out on the road, on the bike, most weekends and usually took motorcycle vacations.)

Initially I told him I’d just put if off for a while, and that I missed it, and was sure we’d get back to it one day soon. As I’ve thought more about it though, I’m not so sure we’ll ever get back to riding like we once did, hell I’m not sure we’ll ever go riding again.

That thought however, got me to thinking.

Was it the actual ‘riding’ I found so much joy in, or was it something else?

The truth is, I enjoyed the process, at least as much, if not more than, the actual ride. Certainly I’d enjoyed the process far more than any single destination or group of destinations.

Then I realized that somehow, somewhere, I’d changed.

There was a time when I’d been totally focused on the goal that I never even noticed the process of reaching it. That once I’d reached a goal, I never took any time to enjoy the thrill of achievement, but rather, focused on the next goal and achieving that one.

That ‘epiphany’ had me thinking about the ‘welding cart’.

I *really* enjoyed the process of building that little piece. Each cut; measurement and tack weld… even the mistakes… I reveled in it… immersed myself in it.

It’s certainly far from the most complex thing I’ve ever done with steel and a torch; in fact it’s one of the simplest, but, for whatever reason, this time I was able to just get lost in the process.

Motorcycling is like that for me as well. There the pre-trip preparation. Oil change, routine maintenance, checking tire pressures, a wash and wax, packing for the trip etc… Some of our fun talks when we reminisce about a trip is how we (mostly my wife) managed to pack everything we’d need for a 10 day trip into two small saddlebags and one ‘back pack’ style bag. Less space than we’d normally use for a weekend away in a car trip.

I’ve started to get all ‘Zen-like’ with regards to the truck project as well. (long time readers will remember the zest with which I started that project) I done nothing on it in over a year, except to move a few things around and lament the fact that I’ve done little or nothing on it.

So, as we start off this new year I’ve decided I’m going to focus less on work related goals, and more about the ‘process’ of my life. I’ll start back in on the truck project, get back in the gym and tackle several projects around the house that I’ve been putting off (like finishing the work in our ‘natural area’)…

I have but one resolution for 2007, to find more joy in the process of living, to allow myself to focus on the process rather than the end result, and enjoy ever facet of that process, even the set backs and failures.

Stay tuned... This time next year you can let me know how you think I did!!

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Jada's Gigi said...

Happy New Year, Bill! I hope the coming year is a much easier one for you and your wife. I like your resolution...I think life is really more about the process than the finished is a blessing to be able to notice that.

Lorna said...

I have but one resolution for 2007, to find more joy in the process of living, to allow myself to focus on the process rather than the end result, and enjoy ever facet of that process, even the set backs and failures.

I think that's the best resolution I've ever come across, and with your permission, I'm going to make it mine. Happy new year.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

I may steal that resolution also - - it says it all perfectly! :-)


Comfort Addict said...

Nice post, Bill. I agree with your focus on process. There is a thing called mindful meditation where you totally absorb your experiences as you experience them. That sounds like a great way to live to me.

Welcome back.

Bill said...

Hi Cheryl, Lorna, Liz and CA - first, anyone who wants to embrace my resolution, feel free to do so! :)

As for the enjoying the process, I've also heard it called "mindful meditation", one book I read encouraged you to walk and while walking to focus on each individual step, as a means of slowing down enough mentally to actually be a part of the process... I'm having trouble slowing down that much... but, if I can just enjoy the 'moment'... I'll be very happy!