I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I do love going to the games. There’s something deeply reassuring about us as Americans on display there. People of every persuasion are happily hanging out together enjoying the weather, the food, drink and each other. They are just glad to be in the moment. It’s quite literally the most mindful, relaxing experience you can share with others.. outside of a yoga studio. 😉
Going to a baseball game reminds me once again, that the VAST majority of Americans have nothing in common with the bullies being featured, normalized and sometimes even hailed as heroes in the press.
GRAND FINALES! … Growing up I missed them all. My dad was obsessed with crowds and traffic so we always left everything early. It didn’t matter if it was an ice-skating show, the circus, a fireworks displays… you name it. The minute my dad sniffed a grand finale in the making, he would whisk us outta there so we could beat the “mad rush.”
I’ll never forget one particular afternoon we were at a Washington Redskins football game. We were having a great time even though they were losing.. as usual. It may have been the beginning of the fourth quarter, I can’t really remember, but my dad suddenly decided it was time to pack up and go. “We’ve got to beat the traffic!” he yelled over the crowd’s cheering as he ushered us out of the stadium and down to his car. What happened next is something I’ll never forget. As we headed back home to Annapolis, my dad had the radio tuned into the game. For the duration of our ride we got to listen as the Redskins came from behind and staged one of the biggest come-back wins in franchise history.
Not one of us kids dared say a word.
Exitology…that’s what I call the practice of living with one foot out the door. My dad had it in spades and I inherited that trait as well. Whether it’s rooted in the fear of commitment, the fear of being stuck, or simply impatience or boredom, restlessness or anxiety, the result is that we miss out on some of life’s greatest moments because we are so focused on the “exit door.”
Practicing mindfulness has done wonders for me as I try to absorb myself in the here and now, completely appreciating experiences as they unfold and redirecting my inward thinking to outward living. Soaking in the fullness of each moment and investing in those around me instead of myself, makes it pretty difficult to simultaneously obsess over thoughts like “How do I get myself out of this?”
Another important antidote has been recognizing the importance of commitment and the desire to do things “right” and see things through. My husband is the captain of the Varsity team in this area. I’m not sure if it’s nature or nurture with him, but at 18 he signed papers that committed the next 9 years of his life to the military; pretty impressive for a teenager. The important second part of that equation is that once he commits to something he’s all in. This is a key pillar in our marriage and the basis for the complete trust I have in this honorable man.
It’s taken me quite a few years to extricate myself from the tenets of Exitology. Changing a learned mindset can be challenging, but the rewards have been so worth it…..peace, acceptance, confidence, openness and many, many, beautiful grand finales!
The following essay by VIVIAN GORNICK challenges us to literally examine ‘where our head is at.’ Just as the author admits in her piece, I too have been guilty of not being “fully present” when I should be. Unlike Ms. Gornick who was distracted by a constant flow of self criticism and fantasies about a mystical “better life”..my mind is always busy thinking about, worrying over and planning for whatever’s next. They may be different thoughts, but the consequence.. missing out on present moments.. is the same.
I am trying to be more mindful, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, turning 50 seems to have fine-tuned my senses and made me better able to more fully immerse myself in life’s experiences as they are happening. This is about developing a more acute appreciation for “the moment” and my role in it. I am also literally training myself to simply acknowledge daily reasons to be satisfied, and to take a deep swim through my life’s ever changing waters instead of skipping over the top like a pebble that’s been tossed across a pond.
The Cost of Daydreaming
By VIVIAN GORNICKAPRIL 24, 2015
THAT spring I was teaching in Arizona and walking daily along a road at the edge of the town, taking new pleasure in the physical beauty that surrounded me (the mountains, the desert, the clarity of light) but, as usual, running a movie in my head. One afternoon in April, right in the middle of the film, a kind of visual static — something like the static on a television screen — cut across my inner field of vision; the “story” began literally to break up before my eyes and then it actually terminated itself. At the same time an acrid taste began to fill my mouth and, deep within, I felt myself shrinking from: I knew not what.
The entire incident was so strange, so baffling, that it mystified rather than alarmed me, and I thought to myself, an aberrant occurrence: Expect no repeats. But the next day, exactly the same thing happened. There I was, walking along the blacktopped road, another movie underway in my head, when again: The story short-circuited itself, the acrid taste filled my mouth, and again I felt myself blanching before some unnamable anxiety. When on the third day the entire process repeated itself, it became clear that a sea change was in progress.
Before long I became sufficiently gun-shy — I had begun to dread the nastiness in my mouth — to want to suppress the daydreaming; and lo and behold, it turned out that I could. Now, no sooner did the images start to form in my head than I found myself able to wipe them clean before they could take hold.
It was then that the really strange and interesting thing happened. A vast emptiness began to open up behind my eyes as I went about my daily business. The daydreaming, it seemed, had occupied more space than I’d ever imagined. It was as though a majority of my waking time had routinely been taken up with fantasizing, only a narrow portion of consciousness concentrated on the here and now. Of this I was convinced, because of the number of times a day the bitter taste threatened to take up residence in my mouth.
The insight was stunning. I began to realize what daydreaming had done for me — and to me.
Ever since I could remember, I had feared being found wanting. If I did the work I wanted to do, it was certain not to measure up; if I pursued the people I wanted to know, I was bound to be rejected; if I made myself as attractive as I could, I would still be ordinary looking.
Around such damages to the ego a shrinking psyche had formed: I applied myself to my work, but only grudgingly; I’d make one move toward people I liked, but never two; I wore makeup but dressed badly. To do any or all of these things well would have been to engage heedlessly with life — love it more than I loved my fears — and this I could not do. What I could do, apparently, was daydream the years away: to go on yearning for “things” to be different so that I would be different.
Turning 60 was like being told I had six months to live. Overnight, retreating into the refuge of a fantasized tomorrow became a thing of the past. Now there was only the immensity of the vacated present. Then and there I vowed to take seriously the task of filling it. But, of course, easier said than done. It wasn’t hard to cut short the daydreaming, but how exactly did one manage to occupy the present when for so many years one hadn’t? Days passed, then weeks and months in which I dreaded waking into my own troubled head. I thought often in those days of Virginia Woolf’s phrase “moments of being” — because I wasn’t having any.
Then — seemingly from one day to the next — I became aware, after a street encounter, that the vacancy within was stirring with movement. A week later another encounter left me feeling curiously enlivened. It was the third one that did it. A hilarious exchange had taken place between me and a pizza deliveryman, and sentences from it now started repeating themselves in my head as I walked on, making me laugh each time anew, and each time with yet deeper satisfaction. Energy — coarse and rich — began to swell inside the cavity of my chest. Time quickened, the air glowed, the colors of the day grew vivid; my mouth felt fresh. A surprising tenderness pressed against my heart with such strength it seemed very nearly like joy; and with unexpected sharpness I became alert not to the meaning but to the astonishment of human existence. It was there on the street, I realized, that I was filling my skin, occupying the present.