The Trick of the Observer
We are always caught up in the moment, though our ability to divert our attention from the present knows no limits. Lately, we at ACEBE have been wondering about what would really take to truly live in the present and plan nothing. Absolutely nothing. To go with the flow, let life simply happen, and see where it leads. It may perhaps seem like a naive idea to many but, mind you, should you try it, you would soon realize it is not as easy as it seems.
Most of us in the west, spend most of our lives chasing ‘dreams.’ We grow up in societies where the credo of having a purpose, goals, objectives, defined stepping stones, or a path to follow (preferably through academic endeavors that will culminate into a stable and well-paid job) is the way to live. For many, this is certainly true. And yet, even when we follow the path, do what’s needed, or succeed, we often still feel worried, unsafe, stressed, at the mercy of unforeseeable changes, or live simply in permanent fear. What are we afraid of, and where does such existential angst stem from?
The reasons for such feelings are different. Some are, indeed, personal and cannot be generalized to the many. But let’s just say that a great deal of our existential fear can be boiled down to living lives where one’s time and changes are often measured in moments spent ‘chasing dreams.’
Having a project, or many projects –that’s the deal. For some, the project is a career, money, a partner, a house, kids, a family vacation to wrap up the year. For others, it is a short venture, a business project, moving to a different country, signing a book deal. It can be anything, or many things. Projects in and of themselves are not an issue. The real problem surfaces when one cannot find her project, when one cannot guess his next big dream.
We have all been there: that moment when, perhaps at the turn of your twenties, or forties, or right after a long relationship, or after losing a job, you suddenly realize that you are at a loss for a target to follow, cannot name the one project or two you want or are supposed to achieve. Then, panic follows. For many, this is moment when you rush to the next best thing. Cornered with an amount of possibility too large to take in —particularly if you have been trained to always choose from a limited pool of ‘smart’ options— you settle down for what seems to be ‘doable,’ for the ‘most common sense’ objective, for a target more or less within your reach. You find your ‘next best dream.’
But would it be so bad in these moments to just sit down and practice the trick of the observer? To take in a moment –indeed, as many moments as needed— and contemplate life pouring in, and out of, and around, and within YOU, and everywhere, and just look at things. Just look around you. Just simply look.
It was Bruce Lee that once compelled us to ‘be like water.’ Well, we say ‘just be still.’ Practice the trick of the observer. Learn to take in the moment. It is really tougher than it seems. Learn to let go of the need for recognition. Learn to let go of guilt. Learn to let go of other people’s judgments. Indeed, learn to let go of fear; and fear not a lack of purpose, because there is plenty of purpose in just being.
We are not advocating for you to ‘do nothing’; well, the point is actually that with a twist. We are saying that there is nothing wrong also with ‘just being’ because, by just being, you are indeed ‘doing something,’ something you have not been taught or trained to consider as an action worth pursuing.
Sometimes, all we need is time, a little bit of perspective and distance from the noise and clatter of a life on overkill. Life IS the dream. So start living it.