Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stop Studying and Start Experimenting

Ever play a game that had no goal?  No end point?  Was it fun?  Did you play again?  At a recent gathering of friends someone pulled out a word game called Bananagrams.  No one else had ever heard of it but within five minutes we were all playing and totally engaged.  Predictions were made about who would win due to certain skills he had but that didn’t dissuade us.  One of the players said she is a tough competitor and really wants to win but that is less important than playing.  Kinda like life.
Life is not a roulette wheel.  It is not totally dependent on chance, skill counts. Developing skill in the next (post work) chapter is both an inner and outer job.  First step is developing clarity about the qualities you seek.  The next is skill building.  This can entail training and study but at some point it is time to pull the trigger and get out and do it, experiment.  Pay attention, make adjustments, and do it again.  Likely it'll never end and after one goal is achieved another emerges.  And as with the competitive player mentioned above, participating is the great reward regardless of the result. 

As I write these words I am looking at the new Sayulita, former surfing village near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, being built in the plaza.  The roads have been torn up, utilities buried underground, fresh adult sago palms planted, all in anticipation of up leveling tourism for this formerly sleepy fishing/ surf village.  A gentrified town means more business equals a better standard of living and the residents presumably win.  They and the government are taking a bold reach for the tourist dollar.  On the beach a few steps away are dozens of beginner surfers renting boards and rash guards and getting out on the waves.  They fall, get back up, and fall again and eventually catch a wave.  They are not aware of the big set about to hit Sayulita.  They are practicing and learning a new skill with the goal of riding to the beach.  

How many times in life have we had big idea such as personal or spiritual growth but never got specific about how that would look?  So, we begin our journey on the path.  Some get very serious.  They take seminars, workshops, retreats, classes for years.  Pursuing the gold ring of peace of mind, contentment, happiness and other worthy aspirations.  But many never arrive and just continue 'growing' (in theory).  I've heard some proudly call themselves 'seminar junkies.'  They are like a heroin addict whose original reason for the drug gets lost in the comfort zone of chasing the high.  Many people are lost in the addiction because they have not implemented the learning in the world.  Seminars, trainings, and workshops are great and can offer positive insights but without grounding in the ‘real’ life it is just a concept or theory.   There is always another teacher or course.  

Dan Millman has written about this in his book, ‘What is the Purpose of Life?’  Quoted in Science of Mind magazine, he says ‘in fact being a seeker can become a chronic condition—and the search can in many cases, only reinforce the dissatisfaction that sent us in the first place.’  He suggests practice in the world is the way to end the constant search.  Like the surfers who get in the water, paddle into a wave, fall down, get up, and eventually ride all the way home. 

The players in the word game Bananagram, the beginning surfers, the town seeking more tourists are all practicing, experimenting with new approaches.  That is what brought me to Sayulita.  For too long I fantasized about getting away from the cold winters in Santa Monica and going to a foreign redoubt to focus on my writing projects.  Analyzing the pros and cons of where to make such a move set my head spinning like the girl in The Exorcist.  I went around and around trying to figure out how this would fit into my overall life plan.  I was stuck in a miasma of indecision.  Finally someone suggested calling it an experiment, a practice.   

Taking that cue, I made the reservation, set up a plan (rules of the game), and did it.  I can apply the lessons of that experience to the next project.  Until I actually did something in the world, it was a fuzzy concept in my head and no progress was made.  The big rock in the road was striving for absolute surety and clarity of the result before doing it: analysis paralysis.   What I needed was to take out the hammer and chisel and chip away.

One of my teachers, Rick Jarow, advised to not set ultimate goals and set trajectories with interim goals, since oftentimes en route we will gain information that can shift what we want.  Keeping this in mind helps to lighten the importance each decision.  Life is filled with adjusting and so should our goals.   The key is to take action in the world and pay attention (awareness).  In my case, I checked Sayulita and realized my vision was not compatible with the town’s goals--new data.  They want more tourists in buses and I want a natural, peaceful, native, tropical getaway.  Without the experiment, I wouldn't know that and it would be another one of those maybes occupying space in my mind.  

Each of us needs to find that place where you have done enough workshops, seminars, retreats, reading, etc and then DO IT.  Do something physically on the trajectory of your vision or dream.  You will likely be surprised at what you find somewhere over the rainbow.  

1 comment:

  1. beautifully phrased, inspiring, and thought provoking.