Monday, March 8, 2010
It isn't always easy to sort out the mixed feelings of our lives. It isn't always easy to know which road to take. And somehow and sometimes we go against our gut feelings, because someone, or something, or the world is sending us mixed signals. So how do we know when and who to trust? When there is this chill in the air, and in our soul, and we are at that fork in the road what should we do? What do we do?
There are many moments in life that are awkward. Many moments when we just have to stand still and we have no answers. And perhaps that is okay. Perhaps the answers will come. Then there is that mantra - "When you don't know what to do - do nothing!"
Okay I'll buy that. That is where I am today.
Saturday I was faced with an awkward moment. I handled it by ignoring it, by acting 'as if,' as if it hadn't happened. I acted this way to save another person from being embarrassed. But we can't always do that. We can't always ignore life when it is stepping on us, pushing us backwards, and making us motionless. I write sometimes that we have to 'enjoy the process.' But then sometimes we don't always have the courage. We find ourselves stuck in the shadows, waiting to be illuminated, waiting to be rescued.
Sometimes I want to wake up in the morning and have a plan, a detailed plan, for my life. I want the map and to know where it is taking me. I want to be protected and safe on the journey. You know the path that leads us to fullness and joy. I suppose I am no different that most. Sometimes I feel like giving up, and giving in, and falling into a state of apathy because of the mixed signals of my circumstances and perceptions. But that isn't the answer. It is a waste of time. So for me, I follow my heart. As fragmented and fragile as it may be.
For if I overthink my days, my moments, or my life, I waste the present moment. I lose out. These moments, lost in overthinking, will never be resurrected or recovered again. So following your heart, listening to the 'still small voice,' or listening to your 'gut' many times will get you unstuck. Sometime you need a little 'GooGone' to loosen the places where you are stuck. And sometimes you might need professional help, sometimes prayer, sometimes a friend who truly loves you from the heart and will tell you the truth with all the best intentions, sometimes from meditation, or a box of chocolates. But whatever it might be for you, do it! Let go of overthinking. It will cause you to drown.
Not long ago I asked a friend what he thought about something that begged for an emotional answer. He responded, "I try not to overthink things." I got it. It hit me in the face. What a lesson I had learned from just six words. For in overthinking, life escapes us, illudes us and we get lost in the process. Good things don't wait forever.
An article in "Scientific American" proves my point more eloquently perhaps. "In a 2008 study psychologist Sian L. Beilock of the University of Chicago divided novice and skilled golfers into two groups and instructed them to perform a series of golf putts. The researchers encouraged members of the first group to take their time, whereas they exhorted members of the second group to swing as quickly as they could. Novice golfers performed less accurately when speed was emphasized, but skilled golfers showed exactly the opposite pattern: they performed best when told to execute quickly and faltered when advised to take their time."
Overthinking is an instant destroyer of highly skilled, developed tasks of any sort – whether mental or physical variety. The Scientific American article focuses mostly on overthinking causing you to choke under high-pressure live situations.
I don't think many of us would want to 'do over.' I don't think I could face the years, and fears, and pain, and grief, and struggles, with its confusion and chaos, and frustration, and losses, and horrible mistakes. Many time these events in our lives cause us to become stuck, to stay stuck and rigid out of fear of change. And then sometimes it is staying stuck that creates the worst scenario of all. If we think something to death we are the only ones who lose - we lose what we could be having in this very moment. We lose the gift of life.
Today would have been the 26th birthday of John Amos - killed in Iraq. Today I write this blog to honor a young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice - a young man I never met. But he lives on in the heart of his friend, my friend Jarod. And if he were here, he would have a message for us all - live each glorious, precious, spectacular, extraordinary moment you can for you never know when it will be your last. Live like there is no tomorrow. Live as if this were your last day on earth. Live, live, live!
Take the step, take the risk, you will never look back and you will never have to wonder what if! Listen to your heart. When you get to that point you can move harmoniously with your partner, with your life. When you are on the right path you will know it, beyond a doubt you will know it. For on that path you will find guidance and direction and peace and release and pleasure. You will find life.
Photo Credit - Copyright Patsy Swendson