(or) Teaching What I Need to Learn
I’ve moved so many times that my mom loves to ask me if I knew where I was when I woke up. If I was feeling the blues from a dreary East Coast winter, I’d decide sunshine was my savior and pick up and move. Then when I was living in warm weather (take your pick: Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Diego, L.A., Florida, Louisiana, Thailand), I would feel disconnected from my family and friends and pick up and move again. On the downside, I’ve learned the hard way about the proverbial: wherever you go, there you are. On the upside, I’ve learned to trust my instincts and feel lucky that I’ve been able to explore so many places, deepening my understanding of the world and of myself.
If you’re familiar with my 5-step model, you know how much emphasis I place on awareness. By definition, we can’t see our own blind spots, which means it requires extra attention to spot our own patterns. Having a coach or trusted friends to check in with is another great resource.
Just a few days ago, I found myself in a funk and reverted to some old, familiar tools. Feeling stuck and disconnected in L.A., I pondered geographical solutions. Then I distracted myself with life’s logistics. I shopped online for the best flights and ran a cost-benefit analysis on extending the lease on my house and keeping or selling my car.
As I’m sure you’re aware, most people teach what they need to learn. I’m no different. The first step in the model that I teach “others” is to focus on feeling. I urge you to ask the question: how do I want to feel? With the help of my friend and co-workshop leader Mark England, I’ve taken this to this next level by adding the word because after describing that feeling. Then after doing John Kehoe’s Mind Power course, I added the layer to act as if you already feel that way. When you say I want to feel, there is longing and desire. When you say it as if it’s happening, you tap into that vibration and energetically start to live it.
As life tends to go, just as I was thinking about the idea as if, I spoke to my coach about the plans for my geographic solution. When I told her that it looks like my days in L.A. may be numbered, she suggested to act as if they were. Then it dawned on me that when we know something is coming to an end, we savor it more. Think about people who have a terminal disease like Randy Pausch. Or think about your summer camp or holiday romances that you knew had a finite time. There is an ease, a natural desire to live in the moment, unburdened by the future. That feeling is available to us all the time.
There have been several books on “Last Suppers” on death row. Whenever my mom indulges in a decadent meal, she’ll smile and say that there were people on the Titanic who passed up dessert. Of course that very statement points to the pragmatic side of why some of us “think” we can’t live every moment as if it’s our last. We may associate living for now with being destructive. We’ve been taught that our choices for food are either tasty and bad for our long-term health or unappetizing and good for the long-term. And therein for me lies both the disconnect and the answer. There are amazing foods that are both delicious and nutritious. For lunch I made organic sweet potato fries cooked in coconut oil. If I knew it was my last meal, I still would have chosen them over McDonald’s fries. Whether I knew I was going to die in an hour or in a century, I’d play basketball or guitar rather than go on a drug binge.
Sometimes we (read: me) need to be reminded of life’s sanctity. Acting as if can be a great tool for creating urgency and it did, indeed, propel me into action. I re-connected with three great friends over the past three days. I saw my friend and physical therapist Dr. Yvette Flores sing at the Viper Room. I savored my Improv class that much more and said yes to an invite to see a comedy show after. I’ve been wanting to visit a friend in Oregon and that trip is now on the books. My friend Adam and I have been talking for years about attending an NBA game and we’ve penciled in a date. I’ve felt bad that my godson has never been to L.A. and we haven’t bonded enough. He flies in from Boston in ten days.
Thankfully I recognized my patterns of seeking geographic solutions and distracting myself with logistics. When I started acting as if, suddenly it didn’t seem to matter so much where I live. Because after all, wherever I go, there I will be. And since the only certainty is that I am here now, I choose to feel grateful, happy, connected, and loved…simply because I can.