Monday, October 22, 2012

All the time in the world.

I used to be good at waiting. I enjoyed sitting in traffic on the way to work, because that meant I could listen to music longer. I didn't mind waiting in line at the grocery store, because I had more time to look at magazines or people watch (admit it - you enjoy that too). Waiting didn't bother me. Life came at its own pace, and I went along merrily, content to go with the flow. Or at least my laziness was so pervasive it appeared as patience. Either way.

Yet somehow within the past year, I have become very bad at waiting. Not bad as in, like I'll hit slow pokes with my shopping cart or flip the bird to the race car driver wannabes in Austin. I'm bad when I get in a long line at HEB, then hop lines, only to get stuck in the next one, and OH EM GEE, why does that lady have to have all produce that has to be manually typed in and then pay with all correct change that keeps falling ON THE FLOOR?! That's just an example. Insert other stores/characters/long waits/anything keeping me from my next activity, and you get the idea. Granted, my impatient thoughts stay safely in my head, and I just smile politely as if I have all the time in the world.

But I don't have all the time in the world. I'd like to think I have the future, since that's what I spend so much time worrying about and planning for. But the funny thing is, the future never comes, at least not in the way we expect or plan. The truth is, the only time we have is right now. This very moment. The one you're spending reading this sentence is the only time you currently possess (sorry, I can't give you a time refund on reading that sentence. Hope it was worth it!). We live minute to minute, or even second to second, but I'm finding that I'm so focused forward (or dwelling on what's behind me), that I don't even appreciate the moment that's in front of me. What's up with that?

I feel this impatience is more pronounced when I'm experiencing something unpleasant, and I'd venture to say that perhaps you experience this too. Most people don't enjoy pain or fear or anxiety or sadness - we run from it, avoid it, and try to soothe ourselves ASAP. I'm no different. Anxiety bothers me like no other. (Uh, so I'm supposed to just accept that there's this whole universe of unknown, not to mention a future of endless possibilities, most of which I can't prepare for, and not freak out? For serious? Because that does not sit well with me.) I like to know what's coming. I will read the last chapter of a book if I have to, and I've been known to ask people to tell me how a movie ends before I see it. Call me crazy (just not to my face), but I see nothing wrong with wanting the reassurance that comes from knowing what's going to happen.

Except there is a lot wrong with that attitude.

First of all, waiting for reassurance is like waiting for it to rain in central Texas. Most of the time it doesn't, and even when it does, it's unexpected and either too much or too little. Secondly, wanting to know the ending first, implies a basic lack of trust in people, in God, in our own abilities to cope, and so on. Trust is kind of important, it being the building block to any decent human relationship, and also the reason we can stand to leave our houses everyday. Thirdly, wanting to know the future causes me to waste a helluva lot of energy worrying about things I can't change (seriously, if worrying burned calories, I'd have to eat cheeseburgers for every meal just to stay supermodel size).

I would like to live for today without worrying about what may or may not bother me/scare me/hurt me tomorrow. I would like to embrace each moment as the gift it is, and recognize that each moment is precious and not necessarily guaranteed. Maybe if I could learn to live mindfully, to use each moment of my day to love in every way I can, then maybe I wouldn't be so worried about the future. Maybe I wouldn't be in such a hurry to get to the next thing.

And if I wasn't always in a hurry, maybe I could use my time in line to help the lady pick up her change off the floor, smiling as if to say, "Take your time. In this moment, I've got all the time in the world."

...This is gonna take some serious practice.

"Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today." - John Dryden

Monday, October 15, 2012

Love without haste.

I love music. It's true, and maybe even just using "love" is not saying enough. Music has been a passion of mine ever since I first listened to Metallica's "Black" album on the way home from a flute competition when I was in 9th grade. I had been jamming out to N'Sync or something else equally embarrassing, when my friend tapped me on the shoulder, handed me Metallica, and said simply, "Here." One word, one CD, and my little teenage life was forever changed. Since then, I've grown to love all music (with a few exceptions, cough cough Britney Spears, cough gag). Music is something I share with my family and friends, swapping songs back and forth, quoting lyrics to each other, and spamming each others email with subject lines reading "YOU MUST YOUTUBE THIS IMMEDIATELY. FOR REAL." Or something to that effect. Going to concerts is almost a religious experience, and in the case of hearing Mozart's 'Requiem' performed live, it actually was.

This is my long way of saying, I am a music nerd. I love everything about it - the chords, the changing tempos, the screaming voices or soft cries, the upbeat dance remixes or heart-crushing love songs, and the lyrics... Oh the lyrics! They are my favorite part of any song; they can make or break a song (again, with a few exceptions... I mean, "Sexy and I Know It" is not exactly the epitome of lyrical genius, but entertaining nonetheless).

Which brings me - FINALLY - to the point of this post. I've been listening to Mumford & Sons nonstop (well, in between other awesome music people have blessed me with). There is one bit of lyric from their latest album that goes:

"I will love with urgency, but not with haste."

I've been turning that over and over in my mind, and even asking other people what they think about it. After some deliberation, I have interpreted it as this:

Love as if it is the most important thing you will ever do on this earth (because it is).

The word "urgency" implies importance, seriousness and immediacy; doing something with urgency means that whatever task you're attending to requires all of your attention, no distractions and no hesitation. In contrast, the word "haste" implies disregard, sloppiness, desire without intent or seriousness. Something pursued in haste may not be as important or worthy of attention and care as something pursued with urgency.

If this is true, then how perfect it is to love with urgency, and not with haste. We must love like our lives, and this world, depend on it. We should love with attention and intention. We should love with our whole selves, as if loving the other was our first and only task.

Hmm... sounds difficult, but not unworthy. Now I really want to love and be loved with urgency. Thanks M&S for raising the bar.

"Do not let my fickle flesh go to waste
As it keeps my heart and soul in it's place
And I will love with urgency but not with haste."
- Mumford & Sons

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

F(alse) E(vents) A(ppearing) R(eal)

It irks me a little when people tell me "stop worrying!". As if I worry for fun or wake up every morning and willfully choose to spend my time fretting. Because I don't. Granted, I realize most people tell me that with all the love in their heart, but it's hard to listen to because I'm what you would call a "worrier". I'm also an over-analyzer, and sometimes a worst-case-scenario type of person. For the most part, these traits are what helped me become a therapist. But they really suck when I'm trying to not let fear get the best of me.

Speaking of which, I had an interesting text argument with an old friend recently about this. Because it was a text argument, I took something out of context (crazy how important body language and voice inflection can be). I don't even remember what it was exactly, but my friend responded with, "You need to stop worrying." Which of course made me even angrier, 1. because I hardly ever get angry, so when I do it doesn't take much to stoke the fire, 2. because I knew this person was right, and 3. I WAS WRONG. And that pissed me off. So what did I do? Well, I did what any mature adult in my situation would have done: I stopped texting them back. So then my friend flooded my phone with a speech that went something like this:

"You struggle with anxiety of worldly things. But it needs transformation to be a concern only for the eternal. Then you will be set free of the binding that causes you to fear what has no power over you."

Ugh... I stomped my feet and rolled my eyes at that. WHAT-ever. Like my friend knows me...

Sigh. Okay. Okay.

It wasn't until the next day that I'd calmed down enough to accept how right they were. I do fear worldly things, things that in the grand scheme of life, don't matter as much as I'm allowing them to matter. And even if they did matter, I focus so much time and energy on worrying about them, that it takes away from my most important task: to love God with all my soul and strength.

Now I know what you're thinking: "There she goes, climbing on top of her God soap box again". And/or, "Will this blog ever end?"

Bear with me, I'm almost there - I'm only climbing on this soap box because it's the only truth I have. God is everything. God is love. Love is everything. And if these things are true, who am I to fear anything? Who am I to doubt or worry or complain? If I believed in these things like I claim to believe, why do I waste so much time running or hiding or worrying about things I can't change?

Why do I believe that fear is more powerful than Love?

Fear is so loud sometimes. It's energetic and alluring and so easy to listen to, whereas Love is soft and quiet and tranquil. It's much easier to notice the crashing wave over the serene pond, because the wave causes a ruckus and the pond stays ever-still. I'm much more likely to be pulled and pushed by the wave, trying to fight against it, getting dragged under, only to be spit out on the beach, sputtering and spent.

And it makes me wonder: what if I were to let the fear wash over me, knowing with my whole heart that it was just a feeling, something transient, that is sometimes protective but oftentimes misleading? What if I didn't fight it, but trusted that if I held onto Love with all my might, when the wave passed, I would still be standing, soaked but safe?

What if I believed that Love truly conquers fear?

Fear is a powerful thing, but I'm tired of believing that its power is greater than the Love that has saved me, and will continue to save me, every day from now until forever.