A new year. Spring-into-action time.
A moment of regret perhaps. Wait, the holidays didn’t last long enough. I’m not ready to spring.
As I absorb the traditional flurry of year-end tributes to luminaries who passed away in 2016 (no worries, this will not be a maudlin’ tome), I think of the impact some of these folks had on the world and on my life. What really causes me to pause, however, is a beautiful picture essay I find in the New York Times Magazine Section (12/25/2016). It is titled “Quiet Places,” and it features seven pictures taken by photographer Mitch Epstein. Photos of the private spaces of folks like Janet Reno. Gene Wilder. The sculptor Marisol. Garry Shandling. All taken right after these folks have passed. A record of the quiet places where they rested and recharged.
Places of contemplation. Creativity. Refuge. Rejuvenation.
Sustained personal impact is impossible without a return to our quiet places. The physical and the mental ones.
Go spring. Leap out of the gate and make 2017 a brilliant year. And ask yourself, so where are MY quiet places? Not the ones you go to on vacation or during the holidays. No, the ones you go to every day. The ones that fuel your daily impact in the world. Some places to consider:
When we close the door, for a moment, we stop engaging with the onslaught of external stimulation. If your work space doesn’t come with a door, find a place where you CAN close the door. A bathroom stall will do. Close the door, for a moment. Sit. Disengage.
When your mind is racing, close your eyes for a few seconds. Yes, a few seconds will do the trick. So simple. When we close our eyes we return to the body. No effort required, it happens by itself. Take your mental chatter break. From the mind, into the body.
Choose to not check your emails, your Facebook account, your twitter responses, your Instagram. Choose to not do it for a brief amount of time. 15 minutes, half an hour perhaps. You decide. Declare your mini-tech-vacation. The world will live, and you will regain quiet focus.
Breath is the source. I know you know. I know too. And we forget, don’t we? Let us not. As you step into high-execution mode, stop for a minute or two and just breathe. Breathe deeply. Into your abdomen and groin. Deep. Exhale extravagantly. A highly oxygenated you always executes better. Do this several times during the day. Consider them your source-connection-STOPs.
Define what that is for you. If you are a spiritual or religious person, this space might be embodied by an image of your spiritual leader or a meaningful artifact. If you have heroes who inspire you, an image of your hero or something they wrote. A picture of your family. A representation of the deeper purpose for why you do what you do. Chances are, you have the sacred spaces present somewhere in your work space. And you ignore them, every day. Don’t. Stop. Gaze into your sacred space, for a second or two. That’s all it takes.
Go spring. And sprinkle your day with moments when you stop engaging. With people. With technology. With your action list.
Sink into the quiet. The spring will be brighter, the reach deeper, the joy more palpable. Spring well.