Through a Jungian Lens

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On Being Too Busy For Self-Awareness

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Slow down, I move too fast. I’ve got to make this lifetime last.

I took this photo in Thailand where life seemed to move at a different pace for a lot of people such as for this man who definitely had time to relax while the young pig was being roasted.  I know that I get less done in spite of the fact that I haven’t slowed down the pace of my own life. I manage to keep busy without actually accomplishing anything worth talking about.

As I write this I am in a local library in Calgary, a place I often find myself visiting after an analytic session. I came into the library with full intentions of slowing down and focusing on a journal project that would look at authenticity and following one’s feelings and dreams. That was more than a half hour ago. I began this session with opening a MS Word document, writing two sentences and then . . .  Yes, I got busy. I changed my computer settings to start with so as to have my battery last longer regardless of the fact that I will be long gone from the library before my battery gives out. Then the laptop automatically found the wifi in the library which required a click to activate. Since I was taken to the login page as part of the activation process, I decided I might as well check my e-mail. Of course that only led me to check out Facebook as well to see how my children and friends are doing since the last time I checked four hours ago. I did take time to click “like” a number of times and to write one comment.

At that moment I had an inspiration, ‘why not write up today’s blog post since I am already online?’ Naturally, I had to search through my photo archives to find an appropriate photo even though I wasn’t quite sure what I would write about. Next came time to do some cropping and some slight adjustments with exposure and saturation with the photo while thinking about what would the content of the blog speak of. Just to get this far kept me busy for three-quarters of an hour.

Now, this doesn’t invalidate the value of this work of creating this blog post, but it does speak to the photo and coincidentally to what I have been reading in Lodro Rinzler’s book, The Buddha Walks Into a Bar.

For many of us, life does feel like a battle. Our first instinct in the morning is one of self-protection, wanting to burrow back under the covers instead of facing the day. this is because we often view our daily routine as just a way to get by in life – pay the bills, find a romantic relationship, maintain our friendships, nurture our family life – at the end of the day, we are exhausted by our struggle to keep it all together.” (page 3)

Keep busy, don’t think too much – maybe we will get to sleep with some hope of real rest. It doesn’t matter how we look at it, whether we want to hide under our covers or flee them, we flee into being busy with life.

“We spend so much energy constantly trying to keep up with voice mail, e-mail, junk mail, bill mail, females, or males. Instead of engaging these various aspects of our life with an open mind, we schlep our way through them and cling to our escapes: we chew our nails, drink beer, have sex, shop online, or go to the gym. Some of us might even be able to multitask and do all of the above at once. Although we try our hardest, we know at the end of the day there is always another thing we should do, and yet we have taken so little time to take care of ourselves.”  (page 3)

I don’t have any of the usual excuses for avoiding taking the time. I am retired, I have taken time out from the normal patterns and routines that filled my life at home to focus on wellness . Yet, in spite of this, I find my days, hours and minutes filling themselves to the point that I manage to avoid my self. I am aware of what has happened and how I sabotage my own well-being. Recognizing that, I accept the reality of what has happened and make the conscious decision to again slow down and be with myself long enough to listen and learn.

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