Note No. 64

April 13, 2010

I am trying something new. Right now. Right this very minute.

I am writing in the afternoon, as opposed to the morning, and I am posting two Notes in one day, and I am not going to edit as much as I normally do, because I need to learn to let go a little. And though I usually have something from iTunes coming out the speakers, I am listening to my iPod shuffle on repeat, so that I do not have to stop writing at any point to change music, nor is my subconscious making sure that each track comes after the other track, as it does when I know an album from front to back, and the ear buds are making sure that there is no chance for outside noise to creep in and the Mr. Ed windows are closed, because office hours are over, so no one can stick their sweet little head in to say Hi or ask me a question, and my phones are in my bag in the next room and Skype is turned off.

It’s just me here. No distractions.

And it feels good.

Lately, you see, I have had the sensation that I want to dig in my heels and pull life to a stop. I want to bring it all to a halt, so that I can enjoy it right now, just as it is. No changes. It is probably similar to the feeling that parents have when they are watching their babies turn into little people. They don’t want them to grow up.

I am not saying that I do not want to leave the island in less than a month. I am excited about moving on and I cannot wait to start my journey—especially since Rosa came into the picture and fanned the flames for me to get going already. But there is also a sense of regret, because I have finally achieved a feeling of belonging and competence, and now it’s time to go.

Where I am in my job right now reminds me of that last month before school vacation, when classes are winding down and the end is palpable, and though you still have to study for final exams, you have pretty much learned everything you need to know for that grade level, so you have that confidence in what you are doing and it’s only a matter of putting it all on paper to prove it. Assuming you were paying attention in class, of course.

In my case, I am busy writing the definitive office manual and I am thinking about the logistics of another person doing my job, and I am coordinating with the accountants and the bank to make sure we are all okay with this, and I am trying to get errand running down to a science that ensures minimal pain for my replacement. But through it all, there is a sense both of pride and accomplishment at being able to pass on something that took me two years to figure out how to do, as well as a sense of relief at being able to pass it on.

So, I want to prolong the feeling.

I just got back from having coffee with a friend, who does not live here, and we were talking about life stuff. She was telling me where she is right now in her career, and how she knows she could be doing something more challenging, but how she is okay with not doing that, because she has made the choice to stick to something that she is good at, even if she is qualified to do something that might earn her more money or more prestige.

I told her she sounded content. “Enjoy it,” I added. “It sounds like bliss.”

So many people spend their lives living for the next moment, looking for the next thing, wishing that they could just get to that point and then everything would be okay. It’s something I recently realized that I have been doing. I am not sure for how long I have been doing it but I think it is safe to say that it’s been years.

And years.

Reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a huge wake-up call for me, though, and now I am reading The Power of Now, which talks about exactly what my friend was describing: enjoying where you are in the present tense. (And before you think I am only reading self-help books these days, I am also on The Bookseller of Kabul.)

Thus, I am trying to notice everything. And I think it’s working. I was at a good friend’s the other evening and she was showing me what she had planted in the garden that day and out of nowhere, I thought: “This is what it’s all about.” It’s those moments that you cannot experience any other way. No amount of video chats or lengthy, descriptive e-mails could have replaced that moment of standing there and watching her flit from leaf to leaf, and feeling her excitement and satisfaction at what she had done. It had little to do with the sounds and smells surrounding that instant, and so much to do with just being there. No distractions.

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