On Clarity

I knew my trip to Europe was going to be a transformative experience, but I had no idea to what degree. Walking the streets and boulevards of London and Paris was a huge adventure. So many new things to see. Our heads were constantly crooking around in order to soak up every inch. We would travel by train to a particular location, then spend the day simply wandering. I wondered to myself- why don’t we do this at home in Chicago?

Over the past weeks I’ve come to a sense of clarity. Where I am, where I’m not, and the fact that I can only exact so much control over this experience of life. Interestingly, I feel this revelation has led to a greater sense of control over myself. But let’s be specific: control over myself- not the illusion of having control over the events and people around me. I feel that the whole narrative I had going for my life just doesn’t fit anymore. So it’s time to slowly and gently create a new lens. To “etch out a future of my own design” as a wise bloke once said.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how distanced I am from reality by the sheer magnitude and frequency of my thoughts. The human brain can be ridiculous! Between mindful breathing and meditation I’ve begun to seek ‘beginner’s mind’: the ability to see ordinary things again for the first time. (Audio Dharma has been an excellent resource for help doing this).

For instance, on my walk home from the coffeeshop this morning I felt my jaw tense up and my brow furrow. I knew it was because I was off in my head, thinking too much. Not experiencing the gifts of the present. So I just stopped, relaxed, and took a few deep breaths. All of the sudden, the neighborhood once trodden and grey sprung to new life. I spotted a row of houses I’d walked by thousands of times but never really looked at before. It’s amazing. I feel I’m taking the first steps of a great adventure.