Annie Dillard wrote: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
There’s another layer to her beautiful quote from The Writing Life, and that layer is how we are doing what we are doing.
I’ve been tracking this “how” with my students somatically for quite a long time and I’ve found it to be incredibly fertile ground for self-exploration and of course, the ability to choose differently – to have the sacred pause in which you can respond consciously rather than automatically react to your life.
How do you wake up? Do you feel a jolt of adrenaline that makes you jump out of bed and takes you straight to your calendar? (one of my students calls it: running on rocket fuel!)
Do you snooze your alarm 10 times before the inevitable pressure of the first task knocks on your door?
Is your body overstimulated, amped, charged, or do you need another few hours to feel the first impulse to move?
Does your pace match your life and what you have chosen to do – or does it, on the contrary, conflict with your desires?
How do you approach a meal? Are you able to connect with yourself and feel your hunger slowly build, until you are clear what you most desire?
Are you able to know, deep inside, that desire and meet it with ease, contentment and space – or does your meal feel like a desperate “let’s get it over with” so the next task can be done….?
Are you eating to take care of your body’s needs, or eating to silence your body’s needs…again, what’s your pace?
And when the meal is over – can you be with yourself, as you digest your experience, and know it to be enough, or are you left wanting more and more and more…
You can explore many of these daily “hows”.
How do you prepare for a work call? A date? A party? A trip?
You’ll start to notice patterns. Patterns which, if not resolved, take you on a trajectory, which may not be what you desire.
We can track the genesis of these patterns, the way we do things, back to our earliest development, our in utero story, our birth story and our earliest attachment to our caregivers.
Then, we can see these patterns take root with the way we adapt to our homes, our schools, the societal structures we live in.
When someone comes to me because they are suffering in their relationship with food, I look at how they do everything, not just their food.
There is so much space for observation, exploration and growth in each moment, if we are willing to slow down and see that the way we formed is intelligent and adapted for how we developed, and that as adults, we can appreciate that, have compassion for that, and make something else possible.