There is a pattern that keeps playing out in my life. And I’ve tried to break it at least 1,000 times before. And as I’m becoming more aware now, I’m understanding the nuance.
The pattern is this:
I’m getting into the flow of my work. Over the course of a few days, I’m increasingly attracting more results to me and my output feels effortless.
I’m taking action without thought, and the results are that each task I do is effective.
In these two or three precious days work comes naturally, as does what to do next.
And then I falter. Somewhere I give in to a passing thought or desire or curiosity.
It used to be I would break this spell by going out on the weekends. I’d be feeling so great from how deeply engaged I was in life, that I’d think I was on top of the world, and thus could party, go out, and let loose a bit.
This would derail me off track.
Later, after I have changed my lifestyle so that it’s not partying that I do, instead, I am feeling so great, that I continue to force work into the weekend, and take it too far.
I would work so much, that I attempt to put in more than I have in me.
This equally puts me off track.
What I’m seeking is full engagement, 24/7.
To work without effort, to take action without trying, and to keep a flow in my life such that doesn’t get broken.
But there are so many places and ways for it to break.
So many areas for distraction. So many places where my energy can leak.
I attempt to let loose, and I overdo it and lose it.
I attempt to continue my work through the weekend, and I force it and lose my hold.
I attempt to keep a balance and I get distracted.
I attempt to give myself downtime, which wanders either through boredom or forced attempts to continue to build my skills, which come from a reactive need to NOT be how am I being, and again I lose it.
This quality I’m after is what people would call “presence.” But it’s not really about my focus, rather my attitude, and, you could almost say it’s a keeping a sort of “distance” from my focus. I’m not sure if you know what I mean? But it’s something like being so fully invested in what I’m doing, that I am equally distant and separate from it. This is something that I’ve found to be not only pleasurable but also effective.
It is the opposite of drudging through life.
And finding this sweet spot is the only area in which I am constantly vigilant.
And, now, I understand that you might say that this drudgery is a part of life.
That events happen outside of our control and you cannot keep whatever space it is you’re speaking about. Or that this is what “life is.”
But I believe that is untrue.
As the nature of everything I do which puts me back into the frame of my work and breaks my pattern does so because it changes something inside of me. It changes the subtle flavor of how I approach my work. A slight bit of fear, or reactiveness, or shyness, or feeling like a fraud, or feeling like I am unequipped to handle today’s task, or like I’m somehow not in charge, and all of these things change the subtle
And what I’ve found is that it never has to do with the outside circumstances.
It only appears that way. And that certain circumstances spark these changes, but the proportion and reaction depend on my own beliefs because many of the outside circumstances that throw me off track are blown out of proportion.
Many of the outside circumstances cause a change in me but then go back to normal a day after having a freakout. And if that’s true, why react at all?
And slowly I’m finding my way out of the pattern.
I suppose this is what mastery and craftsmanship is like. A steadying of the hand.
Experience, which allows you to find yourself back into a flow despite changes to the terrain. Jumping into the flow and using the unknown and the change in circumstances as a way to deepen your practice, rather than break from it.
What used to be minutes of focus, became hours became days.
What is becoming clear to me now, is a question that by understanding, shows me the way out.
The question is:
“When does life become work?”
And the answer is…
“When I am disengaged.”