Every now and then it’s good to hit the pause button on life and take a look around. Think of it as calling a cease-fire so you can raise your head above the ramparts and check how things are going. Are you winning? Losing? Maintaining the status quo? For the “glass is half empty” folks out there, perhaps you’re feeling life is a case of one step forward two steps back? And for those eternal optimists maybe you’re in a “three steps forward so the rest better catch up” scenario.
If you’re winning – good on yer! Just remember to take a breather and cheer on the rest of the team.
If you’re losing – meh, don’t worry about it, you win some, you lose some.
If you’re standing still – well, that’s no bad thing either, time to reflect on life’s mysteries and plan what’s happening next. I suggest cake.
Make life go slo-mo for a mo.
Hitting life’s pause button doesn’t necessarily have to involve a serious stock take of your life, evaluating your career path, ticking items of your bucket list or floundering in a pit of despair over dreams not yet fulfilled. For me it’s about taking a mental snapshot of my life so I can enjoy what I have right now and ponder what I have to look forward to.
Have you seen the now somewhat clichéd movie gimmick, popularised by the Matrix, where the camera pans around a central character or scene whilst everything else either stops or goes into a super slo-mo?
That’s how I visualise my mental snapshot of life. I don’t need endless lists, development plans, achievement goals for my career/love life, plots, charts, graphs or any other in-depth analysis to capture my life.
I take a moment (an hour or so of quiet time is enough) and give serious thought to where I’m at. I make sure I’m aware of the actual thought process (I’ll explain how below) and that I’m preparing myself to remember that moment instead of taking a few minutes to think of what’s next on the dreaded and never-ending To Do list.
Memories can be more than events.
We all have memories, good and bad. They’re based on events in our lives. But have you ever considered creating a memory of memories? That’s what I consider to be the snapshot. It’s like taking a 100 photos (memories) stored in random places on your computer, making a new folder and placing them all inside it.
The point of doing this is to capture your life as it is now inside your noggin. I wouldn’t call this meditation as such, more a brief but important moment of reflection.
Try this simple method.
- Take yourself off somewhere quiet. Plan ahead so you know when you’ll need some you-time and where you’ll be.
- Settle down in your favourite comfy chair, not too comfy because you don’t want to doze off.
- Eyes closed if you prefer. Some people visualise stuff better this way.
My check-list for creating a memory of memories goes something like this:
- How has my life led me to this point?
- Where am I going?
- What are my plans for the future?
- Who are my friends?
- What’s good in my life right now?
- What’s bad in my life right now?
- What makes me happy?
- What upsets me?
- What do I enjoy on a daily basis?
- What can I change to make my world better?
- How can I make a positive impact on people around me?
- Little things.
For each of these create a mental image in your mind. Take your time to pick and choose – a recent birthday party, an image of where you want to be in your career/family life etc, a photo of you and your friends stuck to the fridge that gives you a lift when you see it, little things in everyday life that make you smile.
Never forget the little things! They’re more important than you realise.
A few days ago I had an hour of quiet time. As I gathered my thoughts on life I realised I was smiling at some of the my recent little things:
- Wagging dog tails when I walk in the door.
- The lady at Sainsbury’s who greets me with a smile each morning.
- The fact that two co-workers refer to me as “chum” and “Davey-Baby.”
- The first day of the year where it was just warm enough not to wear a jacket outside.
- Helping someone who contacted me through my blog.
These seemingly insignificant and fleeting little things may move into normality unless you use that pause button and give real thought to why they matter.
This isn’t a To Do list.
That’s the wrong way to approach this.
A To Do list is often viewed as a bunch of hum-drum chores:
- Pick up XYZ from the station/shop/zoo/party/cinema/airport.
- Then there’s the other thing to do – before or after pick up XYZ?
- Meet with ABC for quick drinks/lunch/chat/movie/happy naked bouncy time/shopping/museum.
- Wash cat/dog/car/self/carpet.
- Buy food/gadget/clothes/tickets/tasty thing – cake.
- Pay bills/fine/credit card/employees/personal butler.
- Cook stuff.
- Eat stuff.
- Finish off the watchamacallit for friend/boss/group/family because they’ve been nagging you to finish it for ages.
- Phone friend/family/boss/co-worker to discuss the thing that’s very important but has been put off for a long time.
- Eat cake.
Blergh. That’s a To Do list. Nasty and essential grubby bits of life. Apart from the cake. There’s room to negotiate how these get done but essentially they’re considered things we have to do rather than want to do.
My view of the world around me is filled with people rushing from one thing to another. Quick, hurry, dash, do this, pop there, finish that, sort this thing out, rush to the next job, get that over with so the next thing can be done. Rinse and repeat.
I’m guilty of this sort of tunnel vision of life. That’s why I think it’s important to hit that pause button every so often, let the world go slo-mo and understand the what, why, where, who, why and how of my life. Even if parts of that snapshot are ugly, at least I’m making time to look at life instead of ploughing through it. I want to be able to look back not just at all the random events of my life but at those snapshot moments where I’ve stood still and taken it all in.
Plan B got me thinking.
There’s a jolly nice chap in the UK, a rapper/musician type who, despite what dross is written in the media about him, has a brilliant poetic mind. One track in particular, Lost My Way, has a verse that prompted me to write this post today:God said: “Let there be light” Created Adam and Eve Then he gave them eyes and told them both to both believe In something they’d never actually physically see But then the devil came along and planted a seed And doubt started growing from the ground like trees Right up to the sky so profoundly seen To be the only thing in this life that wasn’t a dream Made from stone, steel and iron beams The council blocks they defined the mean And bullied the sky so that everybody can see Some birds are caged and will never be free And gradually people began to change their beliefs Until God was nothing more than just a fictional being The worship and money merged all colours and creed Into one true religion that was driven by greed Corporate machines trying to sell you shit you don’t need On television and the ad breaks in between Until people only cared about material things Not lives with other fellow human beings And I’m guilty of it too, or so it seems, I’ve… Lost my way Fell down a hole
– Plan B – Lost My Way
For me that section sums up the overly busy, fast paced, surrounded by bullshit aura that’s enveloped the modern world. Now and then we should all hit that pause button to catch our breath otherwise we risk sprinting through life without actually enjoying it.
It feels like if we’re not seen to be constantly busy then we’re branded as lazy or out of touch, behind the times, caveman like. And that modern life has evolved to the point where everything has to happen instantly or it doesn’t work properly and efficiently, or that there’s something wrong with us.
Treat life like TiVo!
Hitting pause is good. Use those moments to enjoy life, to try and understand who you are and what your life is about. Wouldn’t it be horrible to reach those final moments, where your grip on mortality is loosening, and you can’t recall the path that lies behind you? Sure, old age can take a pair of scissors the movie reel of your life’s memories, but maybe by hitting the pause button every so often you’re training your noggin to sit up and take a more active interest of your life and the world around you.
On a sombre note I think it’s worth remembering that our lives are based around memories. Those you capture along the path and those you leave behind when you move on – through family, friends, achievements and so on.
I didn’t plan on writing anything quite so deep (it feels deep to me) as I’ve just read through my last post and pulled a wincing “oh man, did I really write that?” kind of face. I feel it was a little high on the Preachy Scale. I guess right now I’m in a reflective and optimistic mood, and I figured why not share that with you, dear blog reader?
If this post has harshed your buzz or acted like a fun sponge, check out the photo below. I found this whilst browsing through my collection of photos. It was taken last year at my sister’s. I don’t remember the game that led to people dressing up in silly clothes but it sure was fun! Brought a smile to my face when I stumbled across it.
Gotta love the little things!