So much of my time is spent trying to figure out what to do. What action should I take? Where should I go? How should I spend my time? I am a philosophical being in a physical body, so action is necessary but always feels a little bit elusive, a little further away than things like thought and feeling.
The path of life is a windy road. It circles in on itself, stretches over the horizon, and sometimes feels impossible. Time speeds up when we want it to slow down and slows down when we want it to speed up, or so it seems.
One thing I have slowly learned with age is that each and every action does not define me. Still a hard thought to let go of. I think what I want more than anything else is a sense of consistency. To act in alignment with something – my values, I guess. Who I truly am. But with the winding, confusing, ever evolving context in which I make my choices, consistency is harder than it sounds.
Seeking Alignment and Consistency
Here is a difficult reality about being human.
When I dream, envision, or hope, I do it top down. I start with the big picture, the deep meaning, the vision. The end. But it feels so far away, so I try to think of a few definitive markers that are close to the vision and strategies to get there. Then, I might think of milestones that will show I am truly on the way, which in turn informs what I should be doing today, this week, etc.
So, I am dreaming top down, but I am acting bottom-up. Herein lies the difficulty. Step one of acting is today’s goals. But step one of vision-casting is dreaming. So, my heart and brain start off on opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ve got to hold the tension of the ultimate meaning, the value behind my actions. But I have very specific, temporal, day-centered actions I need to take today.
It is enough to leave me lost, unsure, and overwhelmed.
However, this reality is not impossible to navigate. I can hold those two realities in tension. And, with some practice and intention, doing so actually enhances my efficacy.
If alignment and consistency is what I am after, it necessitates both remembering my ultimate destination and taking intentional steps today.
So, I make my daily motions with the end in mind. I set goals toward a strategy. I pursue milestones that align with my ultimate purpose.
In divorce proceedings, you often hear couples say they have “drifted apart”. What an apt phrase. What has happened is one person was acting, daily, weekly, monthly toward one end and another was acting toward a different end. This is what happens when we move without direction. Well, in truth, we do have a direction, but if we are not aware of it in our daily motions, we will be surprised where we end up.
Have you ever played with those Russian Nesting Dolls or gotten a gag gift that is a giant box containing subsequently (slightly) smaller boxes until it ends up being a bracelet or something?
The path of life works this way. Our daily activity sets a pattern and establishes a foundation for bigger moments and milestones. Those milestones reveal a strategy, a deeper pattern for what we seem to be valuing and heading toward. Vision is the biggest of the nesting dolls. The one that sits on the shelf. The image and reality we reveal to the world.
Without intention, this process turns into a real mess. We say we value X, Y, or Z, but forget about that when the squeaky wheel of the day asks us to act according to A, B, and 3. We tell ourselves we will get to X or Z when we are older, when the time is right, when the systems around us allow us to, etc.
The consistency and alignment I am searching for lies within my own awareness. It depends on my intention. It won’t stop the path from being windy and confusing, but it will enhance my ability to navigate the bends and twirls toward what truly matters most.