On moving forward while standing still
Hey guys, been a while. I've been thinking a lot recently, specifically about standing still. In life we spend a lot of energy and time chasing progress of some sort, varying in size and importance; from the next item on our to-do list to the next phase in our careers, relationship or personal lives. To put it simply, we are obsessed with motion. We've heard it many times over; "If you aren't moving forward, you're moving backward." To be alive is to be in motion, progress is very often measured through motion, visible motion.As inspiringly serious as that sounds, it doesn't quite paint a realistic picture. why? Ever heard the phrase, "Life is short?". so wrong. Life is long, very long. Sadly, it feels short because we tend to overlook the best part of life, stasis. Most of us work hard to achieve a certain vision we have for ourselves but rarely ever do we settle down to reflect, relax, consolidate and press on.
Life gives us stasis by the bucketload. We must learn to recognise, appreciate and exploit these periods. Too often we get embroiled in the pursuit of our goals and routines of lifestyle that we miss out on this beautiful gift. It's easy to misinterpret as a negative, however, we must be ever vigilant for this moment is one of life's rare gifts.
Stasis comes in various forms. It's not only a period where absolutely nothing happens (a mistake I frequently made) -- such a situation is near impossible to encounter without extraordinary circumstances such as debilitating illness or the like. True stasis can be experienced at the heights of routine, where the world seems to fade away whilst your subconscious seems to take the driving seat. We experience this at work, with our family, I can best describe this feeling as being on "auto-p ilot".
A turning point
For the longest time, I thought moments of stasis; the peak of routine, where my days felt automated to be the reason for the angst I felt at the time, I had a great job, especially for my young age, an amazing family, solid friends and nary a worry in the world. On this particular sunny afternoon, I had finished work and was headed to the gym with a few friends, a ritual we'd practised for the better part of a year. We would talk about work, life, politics, technology, dreams, goals, significant others and such. Our conversations had become so automated that I could drift in and out of them, into my inner thoughts without missing a beat. This day however, was different. This would be the day I would come to appreciate such "stagnancy" for what it truly was; a gift.
A break in protocol
I told my friends as we spoke that I was planning to move on in my career and work elsewhere, perhaps a different city or country. There was silence. This wasn't what our group would discuss as we slaved away in the gym. I remember telling them how I'd miss our gym sessions and friendship in general. After a few minutes of reminiscing, we went right back to auto-pilot mode, discussing the same topics we had almost daily for a year, the same jokes and such. Then it hit me. I had with me, people who I could discuss actively with, with whom there was sufficient mutual respect to provide value. For a year, I had wasted this on mundane topics and half-hearted enthusiasm. It would turn out that I'd have 3 months with them before moving on to a new city, I was unaware of this at the time. However, I decided to capitalise on the stasis I felt in our friendship, consolidate and push to the next level.
"Let's start a business"
It's considered wisdom to avoid bringing financial matters into issues into friendship, but I've long been of the opinion that anyone you can't go into business with, or deal with financially, really isn't a friend and should be considered an acquaintance or less, as that's what they really are. Back to my story, my request was well received, and we would spend the time I had left with them, brainstorming based on our varying skillsets on what we could do together.
The purpose of my story is to highlight one thing. It's critical to understand that motion in life -- progress, if you will, comes from a place of mastering stasis. You must learn how to move forward while standing still. Time, age, world affairs and structures around you, even your own children can be frightening reminders of how little seems to have happened in our lives in relatively large chunks of time. Anytime you find yourself trapped by routine, that's your time to act.
How then can we capitalise on stasis? Well, my approach was to recognise that it wasn't negative, but it could be wasted. Next, I assessed my current state, with routine taking the centre stage, I was free to think deeply and reflect on where I was on my journey, who I was with and where I could go next. This was absolutely critical. I could have drifted to the next stop, without paying it any mind, as many do, accepting it as their lot. Stasis, when properly capitalised upon, gives us a chance to assess our current state and set well & clearly defined goals, represent them effectively in the place of prayer, unencumbered by the anxiety of impending change, panic or pressure. It is in moments like this we can masterfully steer the course of our lives to best align what God intended.
Till next time, stay awesome