It's hard to believe that it has been nearly four months since the official opening of White Willow! It's been great. Now, at the end of October, I've hit a good routine. I feel settled into my treatment room and happy in our office. It's all perfect, really. A couple of weeks ago, when I realized that I'd worked through all the business projects on my list, I thought, "What's next?"
The truth is, all of my life I'm thinking, "What's next?" Even more than I love a good project, I love dreaming of the next project. Plotting, planning, stressing, calculating, juggling, it's all part of my familiar routine. I needed to learn something new. A new massage modality for my tool belt, perhaps, or maybe something different altogether.
When I couldn't land on any one thing to study, I decided to meet with an advisor. I talked to him about what I've been doing the past few years and asked for his assistance in setting new goals. He said "It looks like you're in a good place right now. Why do you want to learn something new?" I replied, "Well, if I'm not learning then I'm stagnant, right?" He chuckled a bit and said, "No, I'm not sure that's how it works. I think you have plenty to learn right in your massage room. You're learning every day." I protested, "I think maybe I'm bored." Sternly, he said "You're not bored, you're frantic. You've gotten accustomed to being so busy all of the time, but did you ever wonder what it would feel like to slow down? You've worked hard to get to where you are. Maybe you could be comfortable with a slower pace. How long has it been since you enjoyed your day without thinking 'What's next?' I think you need to learn to be in the moment and appreciate your life as it is now. Learn to be present."
For two whole days after meeting with the advisor, I thought I'd wasted my money. He didn't help me find my next direction, and he definitely didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. But then, as I was recounting the meeting with a friend, I suddenly understood what he was telling me. It's funny how you can hear and repeat the same advice over and over, but never really understand it. As cliche as it sounds, I realized that if I keep my current pace, I could let my whole life pass me by. How can I possibly enjoy my life if I'm firmly rooted in the future?
The next day, I decided that I would make an effort to slow down my thoughts and learn to be present by walking to and from work. My walk is 30 minutes, each way. The first day that I walked, the only thing I could see was the finish line. It wasn't until I reached my destination that I realized I hadn't done what I intended at all. The next day, I tried to view it differently. Instead of walking to get somewhere, I tried to be conscious of my thoughts and to think only about what I saw and felt. Still, that proved to be quite a struggle, so I thought that a photo project might help. Baby steps.
Here are some things I've seen on my walks:
After seeing all these beautiful things, I realized that I never would have noticed them if I hadn't slowed down. I couldn't possibly appreciate an autumn blossom or tree canopy from my car. I think it's pretty obvious that I haven't mastered the art of being present, but I do feel different. Without any particular goal in mind, I think I'll keep walking to work, just to see what happens.
-Charley Caudill, LMT