This week I was listening to David Whyte. If you are unfamiliar with David, he is an English poet and organizational thinker. In his discussion, he put words to what has been rumbling around my head over the last months. “Most people are 7-10 years behind the frontier of where they are in their life….if you catch up with yourself, you will find that half of what you are involved with is who you were 7-10 years ago. You just haven’t stopped to find out that actually you aren’t really interested in those things anymore but you hadn’t really check in to find out those things.”
Read that again, “if you catch up with yourself, you will find that half of what you are involved with is who you were 7-10 years ago. You just haven’t stopped to find out that actually you aren’t really interested in those things anymore but you hadn’t really checked in to find out those things.”
There are aspects of life we love – perhaps a hobby, a particular job, a place we volunteer, a friendship. It has been in our lives for years, and has served us well. Then, one day we notice our attitude changes toward this aspect of life. We might begin to feel grouchy, impatient, or angry at the thought of participating. Life can feel burdensome, we may regret “ever having said Yes.”
When that lack luster feeling shows up, we think it is because we are not committed enough, or we give up too early. We wonder if it is the fault of someone or something outside of us that is “making” us “feel” all those uncomfortable emotions. Perhaps there is shame attached to the attitude we carry about the situation, so we plug along, put our nose to the grindstone, keep going, all the while hoping that all the good feelings will return if we just work harder. This doesn’t happen because we are deficient in any way. It most often happens because we have outgrown the hobby/job/relationship/etc. and it simply isn’t serving us well anymore.
Throughout life rhythms change. What nurtures us one year, may feel vacant of meaning the next. Things change because we change. What “fits” us one year, may not fit us the next. I am not talking about jeans, rather I am referring to all the plates we are spinning. To do the unthinkable and stop spinning allows them to drop into our hands, an invitation to consider if we want to keep them, or give them away.
It doesn’t mean we cut ourselves off from this aspect of life, instead we take time to observe what is happening, note it and spend some quiet time catching up with ourselves. It is in our state of being unaware of what is happening at a deeper level where we find the greatest dissatisfaction. Taking time to stop, listen to our own self allows us to pay attention to what is going on in us, to be present to our own deep self and consider what we most need.
This week when you feel disgruntled, take a few minutes, stop and ask yourself what is going on underneath that uncomfortable emotion. Maybe it is time to catch up with you.