I noticed today while running on the sand that at some level I was continuously evaluating the different tracks and paths that unfolded. My internal dialogue included:
“Should I move over to that one? That one looks quite firm and maybe offers better footing. Hmm, that one looks good over there by the shore. Oh, look at that one – its fresh and no one has been on it yet!”
While it was entertaining to observe my crazy monkey mind at work, it also made me think about our daily choices and how often we adjust and reevaluate our decisions. This tendency has the power to turn a dangerous corner – one of second guessing ourselves or assuming the ‘sand is always softer’ across the way. And, once we make a choice, do we have the gumption to stick to our path? While running with the divine Mr Richard, by contrast to me, he seems to pick his route on the sand and stay the course. He even takes pleasure in retracing his own footsteps on the return journey. I can see the need and benefit of both approaches – sticking to our path at times and shifting to a new track when motivation or just pure curiosity arises.
I think for me its about finding the right balance – staying open and curious to new paths but also having the strength and conviction to stay the course when the path is serving me and feeding my JOY.
I’ve never been so bad across so many things at the same time. It all started with the best intention. I’m a self-proclaimed neophiliac and harbor a deep love for all things new. Not in the ‘gosh those new shoes are going to change my life’ sort of way, but more about embracing new experiences. These experiences tend to come along with some dimension of physical challenge. Perhaps my adoration of heroic Evel Kienvel in my childhood has never really subsided.
This drive to try new things has led me to attempt ocean kayaking, freestyle swimming, unicycling, and sailing all within the last 12 months. Its also resulted in endless unexpected mouthfuls of sea water, bruise inducing dismounts and scrapes, crashes into innocent bystanders, and a new appreciation for the speed of Sydney ferries and their right of way status.
I’m a big believer in sinking into a ‘beginner’s mind’. Especially as we get older and excel at both our career and hobbies. Perhaps unknowingly, we tend to seek out things that attract positive reinforcement from both others and ourselves. But the reverse is just as powerful. Knowing that you will fall over. Knowing that you can’t yet swim one full lap in the pool. Knowing that you still can’t remember how to fasten that knot correctly. And also, knowing that we can choose our perspective regarding these mini failures and even tinier steps forward.
Being an absolute beginner offers a certain amount of freedom and letting go of expectations. We have the chance to redefine our own personal meaning of success. Mine currently includes not crashing (as often) and being able to keep up with the very senior swimmers in the pool. It’s a true gift to recognize your own gumption and ability to continue to try, try and try again. And importantly, when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we’re offered endless opportunities to laugh at ourselves!
Humility is a powerful teacher. If we can look at our miniature missteps with levity and kindness . . . well, the ego has no hope of victory. So what the heck, give something new a go. Don’t let fear of embarrassment stop you from finding a new source of JOY.