Is the year ending or starting?

It’s a good thing that by cultural practice in the West this week marks the end of the year. Good because not many of us have a practice of stopping and reflecting and the year’s ending is a built-in opportunity to do that. If you are such a person please do slow down a bit and wonder:

  • What have you been up to?
  • What impact have you made, both positive and negative?
  • How has life impacted you?

But for me I can’t find the end of anything, which means I suppose that I can’t find the beginning of anything either. Everything that I look at or feel or in any way experience has fuzzy edges in time. When was the moment, the exact one, when I first began to love my wife? Or when did I really stop working on such-and-such a project? My thinking and rehashing can go on and on and at some point disappears, but that precise moment is not so obvious. It can be like finding the edge of the fog.

Some people, including some famous coaches, might reply that I simply need to define my goals more accurately and tighten up my memory and get my story straight. And all that advice seems fine if my intention is to live in a story about my life. You know, have something to show for it, something to tell people, some way of validating my value. But even if I did reach a goal (I actually did once) the result would soon turn into something else – you remember, for example, finally getting the job you really wanted or moving into the dream neighborhood or getting a date with your current crush? Then what happened?

My interest is always in the “then what happened?” How well do I do in meeting the next arising of life? How fresh and present and real-time am I just now? Sometimes when I achieve something long sought  (for example, seeing a famous painting or opening up our training in Singapore) I keep telling the story about it. Nothing wrong with that of course but I wonder what I’m up to. What am I opening and what am I turning from and what am I closing down by holding on, even in this gentle expected way?

You might be able to tell that what I’m experimenting with is knowing myself without evaluation. I’m studying who I am without comparing to anyone else, including my past and future self. It’s a daunting experiment. I find myself at least 10-15 times per hour automatically relentlessly checking in on myself. Am I doing what I thought I would/should/am scheduled to do? And am I doing it well (whatever “it” is)? Better than I did last time? As good as people expect?

When I plopped myself in the middle of this never-ending stream and felt into its consequences I found myself tired, disappointed and a little discouraged. After all I knew better (please note this is an evaluation) and could talk about the merits of living outside of evaluation of any type. The habit though is quite intense and deep-rooted and everywhere supported in our culture. Not so easy to let go of it. (Please notice this is an evaluation.)

Still I am apparently someone/some being who continues on; the evaluations add drama, but what else?

If we didn’t have evaluations, what would coaching be?  Just thought I’d throw that one out there.

After a while of being on this path, engaging in this experiment, I’m finding out some interesting things. For example, life rolls on endlessly, blind to my evaluation of it. Life doesn’t stop and evaluate itself; rather it responds to what recently happened. Maybe that’s why it never gets tired and has the creativity to bring stars and sea anemones and you into existence.

Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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