Perhaps this is the most predictable blog post of them all… well done, if you expected this one. But these days I try not to make predictions. I mean, they’re great if they work out – then you can say, “I told you so” – but they pretty much suck when they don’t. Predictions can often lead to expectation and assumption, and we know that assumptions are the mother of all f**k ups! And they really are. So, as I said, I try not to make them anymore. There’s a real difference between planning for the future and trying to predict the future, and only one of them is doomed to failure. While there’s no fool proof plan I can share with you here, I can certainly tell you what it’s called and how and why I do it. And this will probably go a long way to explaining how and why I have walked away from my career as a secondary language teacher into the apparent unknown.
I have become extremely passionate in recent months about living a mindful life. So much so, that I have decided to share this with others. In some ways I feel like a missionary must have felt back in the day – somewhat of an oxymoron if you are aware of my position on religion! I don’t really like the feeling, but I guess I’m not going to try to convince anyone of anything, if they’re not already willing to be swayed. The thing is, I’ve rediscovered what passion means in my my working life, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. There are probably a few elements to it, but starting my own business, where I get to make the decisions, is central to this feeling. But that can’t be all. You have to actually love what you’re doing, and believe in it to get the feeling that I have.
The naysayers will tell you (and more than likely tell me!) about the research that was debunked about mindfulness a few years back. That can happen when standard scientific protocols aren’t met – it will render the results open to challenge and bring the whole thing into question. Fair enough, I say. We live in a scientific world and people need to see some proof before they will commit to something. What these naysayers conveniently leave out of their arguments is that since the early studies were conducted, many new studies were undertaken which did follow correct protocols and which have produced irrefutable results. It’s simple: mindfulness works. And if a science-convinced sceptic like myself can believe in it and benefit from it, then I think anyone can. I became convinced by having an open mind, giving it a go and then finding out about the science later on. It doesn’t matter which way you do it though. Whatever method works for you, it will work.
Work to do what? I’m already hearing this from the same people who think I have thrown away a solid career for a risky self employment venture. It’s all very well spending life focused on getting ahead financially, aiming for that big house and just getting through the drudgery of work until you get that next holiday so that you can spend time in a place that is for all intents and purposes imaginary. But what if you could enjoy what you are doing right now? What if satisfaction in life didn’t come from these things far off in the future, but from the things in your life at this very moment? That’s what I’m hoping to help people find. It’s a process. It takes time. But with a little curiosity and a willingness to commit to the practice, a life worthwhile can be found in this very moment, doing the simple things that are your life. Do you still get to take the holiday? Damn right you do! But you don’t have to drag yourself through weeks or months of work to get there, and you don’t have to spend the final days of your holiday dreading a return to the strangling daily grind.
Mindfulness has brought a focus to my life that I never knew was possible. I still feel profound sadness and complete and utter elation. It doesn’t prevent normal human emotions – perhaps it even heightens them. But it does so in the grounded knowledge that all things – from emotions to work days to blissful holidays – they all pass. And to get the most out of all of these experiences, you must be present and aware. With this knowledge and these skills, I am able to sleep better, knowing that I have been present in my day, that I have been able to concentrate on my work and interact consciously with my son. I’m certainly not coming to this from the perspective of some self-righteous guru. I still have so much to learn. So much I want to learn. But I can be absolutely satisfied that my future will be wonderful – maybe with that house and most definitely with those holidays and hopefully with a loving partner – because I am spending my time on the present moment. The future will sort itself out, not because I believe in some all-conquering and divine fate, but because I am putting my eggs in the present moment basket. And if I look after those eggs right now, eventually they’ll hatch. I have no expectation about what will come out of the eggs, but then I’m no chicken. I just know that whatever hatches, it’ll include experiences to help me grow, one way or the other. Where’s your basket? What are you doing with your eggs? I hope you’re looking after them!