I recently took my periodic “fiction” break. I usually pick up a book to completely escape the crowded thoughts in my head and simply relax. As a fan of The Hunger Games, I was excited, albeit late to the game, to read Divergent. I also was unable to shut down the create engine that can sometimes be exhausting. Without giving away too much of the book for the 3 people left who haven’t read the book, the main character, Beatrice, has a special gift that classifies her has divergent. The teens, who make up the characters, are put through a series of fear simulations to test how they react in a stressful environment. In order to truly measure someones reaction to their greatest fears, they need to actually feel fear. Written into the story, the majority of the characters are unaware that the simulations are actually “simulations”, thus feeling the full force of their fears.
Stray dog – asleep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For some, however, they are aware of the “simulation” and are able to manipulate the outcomes based on this “awareness”. These characters, Beatrice included, are “divergent”.
How does this relate to the us on our journey toward success or “awesomeness”? Most people are simply going through life one day at a time. The days “happen” to them. Unfortunately, they are unaware of the clock and the calendar speeding up. They are unaware that they have the control to change their destination, to “manipulate” the outcome through intentional living. Fortunately, you are here, and you realize this. Intentional living is the awareness that we control what we do.
There are no guarantees that we do the right things and get the perfect outcome, but without awareness, you have no chance.
You will be a puppet being manipulated by time. We read stories of older people gaining this awareness and sharing regrets of things left undone. Get intentional, stay intentional, and live with an awareness of your purpose.
Dropping off my Highschooler today, I saw something interesting. I am not referring to the “you smell like fart” t-shirt, although that may be fodder for another post. Turning in toward the parking lot, as I was leaving, I saw a lady driving, perhaps by tele kinetics. She has a lit cigarette and a cell phone in one hand and was driving with the other. She seemed deep in conversation with anyone except those in car with her. This isn’t a rant about her, though. I don’t know the specifics. She could be getting biopsy results (in which case, talk away), or she could be discussing the Full House reunion commercial (can this wait?). This also is not a post about distracted driving. This is a post about distracted living. We are all guilty. Jeff Goins does a great job addressing this in his recent book “The In-between”, but he didn’t invent the concept of “smelling the roses”. Seeing this lady talking away while her teenage passenger stared into space reminds me of the many times I was checking e-mail while my daughter discussed the intricacies of her 4th grade tether ball tournament, or my boy giving me play by painful play of jumping his scooter off the curb. I’m reminded of “helping” along stories my kids have shared with a “yes, yes…and…and”.
lonely kid on a beach … standing (Photo credit: Pierre Metivier)
We are busy, and that’s ok. Somehow, in my impossible attempt at becoming the perfect parent, I have discovered something way better than perfection: Presence.
The idea of being present doesn’t end with our kids. Although I’d argue that this is the most important and most neglected opportunity. Being present takes intentionality. Ultimately intentionality as a lifestyle makes this easier. When I am in control of my goals, projects, and tasks, I am much less distracted by the “stuff” of life. Intentionality toward being present is also key, and a great opportunity to develop much deeper relationships. The ability to hold a cell phone to your ear in the same hand as a lit cigarette without igniting your hair is a great skill, perhaps that energy and focus could be used toward awesome intentional living. I challenge you to find 2 people in your life (child, spouse, co-worker, etc.) who you let the rules of presence slip. You may have slipped into distracted habits or finishing sentences to “move on”. Be fully present to them today. Turn off the cell phone, the TV, or whatever has your mind.
Share the “relationship changing” results.