There’s a lot of talk out there in the self-help / life-coach / self-actualization world about the importace of being “fully present.” About finding “flow.” Well they’re on to something. Long before the self-help movement Thorough coined the phrase “quiet desperation” to kind of explain the opposite of flow. The zombie-like unexamined plod from one mundane event to another that makes up most of our lives. Those people that are always thinking about something else and never giving much attention to the person in front of them. You might think that talking to one person and texting another at the same time let’s you maintain twice as many friendships, but you really end up with far fewer. I was sitting in the office trying to relax on facebook and my boy starts trying to get me to wrestle him. In the middle of trying to get him to leave me alone I’m suddenly struck by
How many memories does my boy have of me trying to get him to leave me alone? It’s clearly not my job to be his 24/7 entertainment center and gym, but at the same time how much time should I spend ignoring the most important things in my life? Growing up, my dad was kind of a mixed bag. In hindsight he was clearly struggling with depression, or possibly lycanthropy. At the time he was just moody and hard to read. I hope that my kids remember me more for trying to balance all 3 of us on a 75cm exercise ball than for staring at a computer and telling them to go away, or for yelling at them to do their chores and clean their messes. I hope they think more about the bed time stories and less about the “LET ME SLEEP! DON’T YOU REALIZE I WORK ALL NIGHT!”
Woody Allen said “80% of life is just showing up.” But by showing up he didn’t mean standing around and doing nothing. Once you show up you have to BE THERE. You have to engage. You have to hit your son in the head with a pillow. You have to pretend to struggle and try and get away while he holds your shirt up so your 2 year old daughter can zerbert your belly.
This is the only life we’ve got. It deserves better than an autopilot.