“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play“.
― Alan W. Watts
This Alan Watts quote is one I found in a post from a blogger, The Parmigiana Whisperer or ‘Cream doesn’t belong to Cabonara’. The blog is varied and very entertaining, but the author had me at the quote.
I haven’t really engaged with much for a while now. Don’t get me wrong I still do things, but I have felt apart from things around me. I guess it would be safe to say I have been on autopilot. You don’t need to know the reason but I can tell you categorically I don’t want to hear the word ‘resolutions’.
A list of things to improve my life in the new year will not help. I have to choose to keep the car on the road before I can address the ‘how to‘. I need to acknowledge my driving is wonky. These days everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with things we can do to improve the quality of our lives. Everyone is a life coach and everyone has ideas on aims and goals.
I think the answer is so much simpler. We need to be present in the moment, we need to engage with what we do and who we are with. Too simple? Overthinking, taking on too much complicates our lives and play disappears. I honestly think a lot of us set ourselves up to fail. We ask too much of ourselves.
We seem to set the bar high in everything from the way we present our house, to what we wear and let’s not even talk about job performance. We clutter our lives with standards. Work may be work but so is everything else we do. All talk of resolutions that we indulge in at the start of a new year makes things worse. A new year doesn’t bring change; we bring changes and if changes are needed then waiting for a new year to implement them makes no sense. All we do is create pressure, and as a consequence the chances of failing are heightened.
Recently, I bought some acrylic paints and a readymade sketch on canvas and basically coloured in, or at least tried to stay between the lines. The painting activity had no deadline. I had no burning desire to finish and hang it somewhere but nevertheless I found myself totally engaged in the project. All I wanted was to have fun and fun is what I got despite spillages which I still can’t get out of my dining room table.
When we engage, we see what is important, we take time to enjoy what is in front of us, we live in the here and now. Covid has proven how easy it is to take things for granted, how easily things can disappear. If nothing else Covid has shown us the fragility of our lives on this planet. Engaging keeps us honest, keeps us aware of what is ‘meaningful’. I think it helps us be better people.
I love this video clip from the film Shall We Dance and I particularly like the last bit where the Jennifer Lopez character says, “be this alive”. To me, this line embodies exactly what engagement is all about. To be fully in the moment is to live life fully and this brings out the best in us.
What do you think?
Till the next time,