Thursday, March 5, 2009

GET OFF THE AXIOM!: Auto-pilot Rehab

I've been so UNinspired lately it's almost comical. Today after my coffee, which generally makes me motivated to accomplish a superhuman number of tasks, I almost fell asleep. I thought what better than to perk me up than to hit the gym...I didn't even have the energy to adjust the bike to the right place so for a good 5 minutes I biked with my knees to my chin and by 10 minutes the bike had won and I was gasping for mercy! What is happening to me?

Being so UNinspired today and thinking about it caused me to think that maybe what
I'm really inspired by is people. And I'm not in a job where I'm surrounded by them right now. See...I even said "them" as if I don't know who "people" are anymore. I need PEOPLE! Help, I need a crowd! WAIT? Maybe it's not people I's the way we live avoiding "them" I just need to stop? Am I a human avoider?

Have you noticed we are becoming very much like the AXIOM in Wall-E? We are commercially driven auto-pilot robots sucked into our cell phones, and computers and daily routines without really "seeing" what's going on around us! If you haven't watched the Disney movie, you should. It's a sweet love story yes, but what I took out of it is the mindlessness of todays society and what a scary reality it is, not in the future, but NOW!

Let's start with phone conversations -OK - I admit, I've been accused on the phone of not paying attention. My blame goes on hating talking on the phone and having to get things done while I'm "listening". I'm guilty of "uh-huh'ing" my way through parts of conversations, and I finally realized this for myself when I first used Skype -phone with a tv screen online. The conversation was SO different....I had to truly just pay attention -sit down, turn the tv off, put my magazine to the side, no internet, and just
talk on the "phone" because he would bust me if I wasn't! It made me realize how much I usually do when I'm on the phone instead of just listening.

Maybe you're not quilty of that ---well, How often have you driven 20 miles and realized you have no recollection of the trip? Happens to me ALL THE TIME. Is it societal auto-pilot? A sort of multi-tasking mania? At moments I'm doing all of this at once: listening to a song, singing in my head or out loud, eating food, texting (oops, I admitted it) or talking on the phone, sometimes looking at my planner if it's a business call--OR just spacing out. I couldn't tell you exactly what I passed during those 20 miles or where the heck I was if I didn't drive those roads everyday. Much less - I don't even know what happened while I was driving yet I made all the right turns and was still going to the right place...on auto-pilot! SCARY!

Not only that, but I'm a HORRIBLE nail biter and when I took off fake nails the other day I stared into space biting those deliciously tender bits of awesomeness for nearly 4 hours straight without blinking!

Even worse - I find myself walking into stores involved on my cell phone - head down and avoiding eye contact so to not interupt my call by someone "interacting" with me, taking calls at the checkout, and involved in texting and internet at caribou rather than noticing anyone around me and just having a cup of Joe.

The elevator is the worst, I don't even attempt to make eye contact or say hello anymore...I'm mentally checking off what I'm doing next in my head and staring at the little light up numbers like they show in awkward tv moments! What happened to me? Someone once told me the sole reason they tracked me down to get to know each other was because of how I greeted them when they walked into an elevator. Help?!! What have I become?! I NEED A SUPPORT GROUP.....AUTO-PILOT REHAB! Do you know what I'm talking about?

I've been noticing it more and more. I think I'm getting so much done, but really I'm paying attention to nothing and checking it off a list that probably doesn't really matter.

Recently, with a few days off I've had a chance to just be...relinquish my soul to helping my mom move, relaxing, hanging out, and even playing BINGO, and not be on my phone or computer. I've watched tv, movies, and even just sat and talked with real live, gulp, "people".

Just being present to the stillness has made me realize how I zone out ALL the time to the beauty and people around me. All under the guise of getting things done.

Since noticing this I've recently been inspired so many times! I used to pride myself on my cursed blessing that people just "talked" to I know why, it's simply that I invited them to.

I've said hello to people walking into stores and sang like I was in the shower everywhere I walk. It's been fact one of our maintenence men said the other day, "You are so happy..always singing, just like one of our guys who's always whistling, it's refreshing"...and conversation ensued. Huh? I'd never talked to him before more than a "hi" even though I see him every day. He was nice.

I went to church on Ash Wednesday and I saw the man who bags my groceries handing out bulletins. He is developmentally challenged and has a very unique voice that I suddenly recognized. Not because he said hello (even though he did)..but because as I was looking for a seat I heard his unmistakeable vocals singing every word of the choirs music. Music I have never heard and music that wasn't a communal song.... yet he knew every word.

Screw the song - Why had I never taken such notice of him before, he was so kind? This really beautiful moment slapped me in the face and I noticed someone who I usually just say "paper" to with a non-interactive smile as I'm digging in my purse getting my Visa. He became an inspiration to me. He woke me out of my 'Axiom-like trance' to what life was about...I realized inspiration comes from 3 simple things; paying attention, giving back, and living your gifts.

I realized it's not that I'm not "doing" those things--what I realized was I'm not being fully present all the time and too often I'm checking things off of my list and not
PAYING ATTENTION! I check off my list to volunteer once a month, I check off my list to do something towards my career each week...but they aren't really present activities. They are checkmarks. My whole life is a list of To do's....

I LOVE TO DO LISTS! People who know me best, will tell you mine are ridiculous, and often times when I'm ordering out my day you'll see "eat" and "shower" on that checklist. Obscene I know.

Can I say it? No more random more auto-pilot. I'm putting myself through rehab for list makers and the electronically obsessed. Truth be told, I'll never give up my planner or To-Do lists, but I might just stop during that list to smell the laundry...once it's clean of course.

I've been bored, and unispired, because I simply haven't noticed anything, and everyONE that could change my day. Maybe you're on auto-pilot too - even worse if you feel that way on the job - that's where you spend most of your time and should feel alive!

Who are you ignoring? Your soulmate? Someone you can learn from? A person who needs a smile? If you want to know, perhaps a good start is to just pay attention and start to look at someone in the elevator, smile at the person you pass going in the store, or simply notice and say hi to the person bagging your groceries.

As for lists...Sometimes we miss the light in life when we're spending too much time with a highlighter.