Lately, I've been around a friend that I met in Peru, and he is very different from me. This has caused me to reflect on certain lessons that would serve me well to put into practice. They seem to be all related. Here they are:
1. Don’t seek the most comfortable way.
For some reason, I am a person who seeks the most streamlined way of doing something. I solve problems by finding the ergonomic solution, the one that takes the least amount of energy to put into practice, or at least, it might seem that way. For example, I really like being warm and physically comfortable. I will use energy to get blankets together or put on a coat, and then when I pick my spot and sit, I still remain focused on my physical comfort, and I can’t relax and move from the physical to the intangible, at least in my brain. I spend more energy on my comfort than actually enjoying it and living in the moment.
Yesterday, I bought some shoes that I knew were going to be uncomfortable, but when I danced last night, I wasn't thinking about my feet; I was busy living. When I stop worrying about the future and invest all my energy in the now, I get a fuller, richer experience. I am able to give my focus to the moment and soak it up. It becomes more meaningful and memorable because all of me was living it, not just a percentage.
(Maybe the reason why we age faster, or at least feel older, is that we do not devote all our attention to the events that transpire around us. We have our mind elsewhere, and so time seems to pass us by.)
I cannot live a life of complete comfort, because then every pleasure is satisfied and I have nothing unresolved. There needs to be a thorn in my side to make me struggle. Otherwise, I would never do so. This brings me to my next lesson.
2. Keep experimenting.
Contrary to what I have somehow programmed or developed in my head, I will never be a final product here on earth. There is never a time when I can sit back and say something is completely done. I am a work in progress, and so I should act like I am in an experiment. One of my friends in Peru told me, “We are young, and we have the right to make mistakes.” Then I thought, are we not all young? When is it time to stop experimenting? If I give myself the motto of “Keep experimenting,” then I see life as something to be experienced. I can try new things, because those things don’t have to be 100% polished when I do them. Things can be rough, I can take risks, I can see my experiments as tests until I finally get it right. And then when I can say that I got it right, that doesn't mean all the other times were in vain, for they shaped me and led to the most polished version of me. I must be willing to try new things, or I will get old very fast. But not just old, stuck in my ways, unwilling, stagnant, uninventive, lacking creativity and vitality. When I say to myself, “Keep experimenting,” I can give myself the opportunity to fail, which might be one of the greatest gift of learning.
3. Experience more, complain less.
Many times, I put myself into a bubble. This is mostly a comfort bubble. I use the spectrum I have experienced in this bubble as the basis for determining my mood. When the difference between the highest and lowest point is not very extensive, I will complain more and not be grateful for what I have. Yet as I expand my experiences and am forced to deal with things I wouldn't naturally choose for myself, I grow more appreciative of the things that really are blessings, privileges, or rights. That’s when an air mattress becomes a luxurious queen bed because I've been staying on lumpy hostel mattresses. Or hot water is a privilege because other people never have the option between hot and cold. Or I’m just thankful I can wash my hands with soap in a public bathroom. As our vision expands, we see things for how they really are, and our perspective is clear. Let’s remember what we have, what others don’t have, and what we could be without if we are not grateful enough for our circumstances.
I hope that I remember these lessons and put them into practice in the “real world.” The challenge is to constantly become.