Forget wonder. (Oh please, now, how can we?) Do you witness?
Have you been to a concert lately? How about a car crash? How about a fight? Or maybe a surprise birthday party? Or even the first time the baby walked or the last time the dog farted…what were you doing?
Were you witnessing it in real life or were you recording it via your iPhone? True story; I went to New York Fashion Week and I was appalled by how many people watch a runway show through their iPhone. Beautiful models wearing incredible outfits right in the front of your face and you are holding up your phone and looking at the tiny screen instead. Egad. (I did it, too, by the way. The photo of the strange celebrity being filmed is proof because I was on the other side of my phone, being a photographer to it all.)
My question to you today is; how do you witness?
Forget wonder, glorious wonder, found in life but beaten down by technology, society, parenting and more. #Forgetaboutit. Instead, focus on witnessing. Living. Being present.
I'll confess. I have problems with this. It’s tough to really witness. It takes so much time, so much effort. It’s emotional to really commit to being present. It’s draining to connect, feel, engage…live.
But it's totally worth it, right?
Originally posted back in 2008, Jay Dixit wrote an article that appeared in Psychology Today. Titled, "The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment," is a good read that probably resonates with 99.9% of people alive today.
Here is where I tell you a little about myself. I stumbled upon the "Art of Now" article by way of researching Burning Man. I was researching Burning Man while researching concerts, events and conferences for work. I was investigating the idea of community, masses, groupthink and the role social media plays. Oh, and brands. How brands play into those experiences and how they affect the act of forming a community, especially around something as visceral as a theme; like music, yoga, fashion, etc. Not as deep as it sounds, but I digress. I was researching. And I joyfully stumbled. (So maybe wonder exists, after all.)
Truth is, I haven't attended Burning Man, but I'm intrigued by the idea behind the event and I'm a little bit in love with the Ten Guiding Principles.
My most favorite guiding principle is "Participation." Here is what Burning Man says about the idea of participation:
"Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart."
Good god I love that.
1: To improve your performance, stop thinking about it (unselfconsciousness). Focus less on your mental chatter and more on what you are part of. That's advice from a dance instructor to the author of the article, but it's sage advice.
2: To avoid worrying about the future, focus on the present (savoring). Mark Twain once said, "I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." So savoring is the idea that we concentrate on thinking less about all the "what if" bullshit and more about what is actually happening around us. Like a delicious slice of decadent mocha cheesecake, savoring our moments allows us to really taste the sensation.
3: If you want a future with your significant other, inhabit the present (breathe). Being mindful decreases aggressiveness, limits ego involvement and generally speaking, leads to a happier you and happier people around you. That's good stuff.
4: To make the most of time, lose track of it (flow). This is the state of total absorption. Toddler can do it and so can dads who tune everything out while watching TV, but most people have a problem finding "flow." Sex and sleep are two areas that flow seems to happen to most of us, but the goal should be to find more "flow" in our lives.
5: If something is bothering you, move toward it rather than away from it (acceptance). Accept your thoughts and make peace with it. You don't have to believe it and you don't have to do what they say.
6: Know that you don't know (engagement). People tend to stop paying attention to something after they think they "know" it. But every new moment gives you a chance to see things in a different light. Like sunlight shifting patterns across your office wall, the tiny lines on your baby's fingernails, a wrinkle around your mouth when you make that face or a subtle hint of cinnamon in your afternoon coffee...If you don't engage, you may miss it entirely.