I had an odd experience. I’ve been puzzling over it for a month now. You know when something happens that makes you stop and think? You wonder “huh, that’s different” or maybe it was strikingly familiar. Either way it feels remarkable but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Yeah, it was like that.
So Annalesa and I went on a camping trip. For three days this scenario played out. She’d declare or ask about a particular goal, and I’d be completely noncommittal. It was weird because I’m usually so freakishly goal driven. I plan, I make lists, I set goals, I hold myself and others accountable. I like direction and achievement. We’ve grown up with me teaching her the importance of all of these things. And there I was completely flummoxing her with such uncharacteristic answers.
Annalesa packing: “So we’ll paddle 7 miles the first day?”
Me: “Or not, we’ll see.”
Annalesa looking at the map: “So we’ll eat here, and camp here.”
Me: “Or not. We’ll see.”
Annalesa bundled up against the wind: “Our goals is Kettle Falls, we’ll get there tomorrow.”
This was continuing to be a frustrating interaction for both of us. Who was this person?! How could I be so casual, so relaxed, so not goal driven? Where did this come from? I thought back to the honeymoon paddling trip, which was far more stressful. But even then the day-to-day was shockingly simple. We didn’t have an itinerary, or daily goal distances. Every day we would travel east, or not.
So I said to Annalesa, “This is our vacation. We can stay at this little shrubby spot the whole time, or perhaps we will paddle tomorrow. We don’t know what the weather will bring. My only goals are that we have fun, don’t die, and get back home by Sunday.”
And that became my mantra for the trip, “Have fun. Don’t die.”
I’ve been mulling over that mantra ever since. It brings the Zen like peace and balance to my overdrive life that I’ve been searching for in my yoga. “Have fun. Don’t Die.” It is the most basic directive that brings simplicity to endless choices. It puts things into perspective. But it doesn’t work in everyday life.
Life is not always fun. That’s ok.
Don’t die is impossible in the big picture. In the small modern picture it’s a little too easy.
So how do I turn “Have fun. Don’t die.” into a daily motto?
I tried “Experience and contribute.” Just experience living, and contribute positively to the world. But it felt all wrong. Things like “just breathe” or “live life” rubbed me the wrong way. How about “Feel stuff. Do good?” I didn’t like the “good” part. Too much pressure! Not everyday or every moment is filled with generosity and goodness. Plus over history we know that even the most well intentioned acts can end in devastation. How about “Do things?” Ahhhhhh, much better. I can always do “things.”
So there it is. I’m going to try this motto on for size.
“Feel stuff.” Feel the sun, wind, rain, and ground. Feel happy, sad, excited, inspired, depressed, and loved. Feel muscles move, blood pulse, and skin touch. Feel stuff!
“Do things.” Things like breathing, eating, sleeping, and running. Do the dishes, and the hugging, and the laughing, and the laundry. Do the giving, working, learning, and contributing. Do things!
“Feel stuff. Do things.”
Kym Zest’s new motto.