Learning to live
It’s funny how a tasty bag of fish and chips can feel so desperately appealing when you’re trying to lose weight. There’s something about deprivation, about delayed gratification, that can intensify awareness and desire. Everyday things that were hardly noticed before, that were taken for granted in the midst of other distractions can become a focus of attention, of need, of longing.
It’s about breaking away from the ordinary, about disrupting routine experiences or patterns of behaviour in order to see, feel and experience them in a fresh light. It’s about learning to experience and appreciate familiar things anew, to encounter them again as if for the first time. It’s like learning to see and experience the world through the curious, excited eyes of a child.
I’m aware of how much of my life I spend on auto-pilot. It’s a normal and necessary psychological state that enables me to focus and to avoid sensory overload. At the same time, I risk becoming dulled to the world around me, to other people, to myself and to God. Perhaps this is why some resort to fasting-as-deprivation or extreme sports to feel the rush, to feel really alive again.
Sometimes it’s a surprise, a crisis, that jolts and awakes us. Sometimes it’s a startling insight that catches us unawares. It’s something or someone that shakes our cage, shifts our perspective, sometimes gradually and sometimes dramatically. It could be an unexpected opportunity or challenge, a change in circumstances that shifts the gestalt background into sharp foreground.
I was once sitting in a church service, bored to tears. I sat by a window and, as I gazed through it, I noticed a daddy long legs insect on the glass. I day dreamed of being kidnapped and held captive on an alien planet with no other earthly contact. I imagined how I would feel if I then found that insect, that fellow earth creature in my cell with me – how amazing and precious it would be.
It sounds random and bizarre but it felt like a moment of insight, a revelation from God, that really sparked my imagination. It reminded me of a friend whose young sister became terminally ill. In the midst of such tragic circumstances, the friend commented how, paradoxically, she had never seen her sister so alive. In facing imminent death, her sister was able to deeply value life.
Is this something that Jesus meant when he commented, ‘unless a seed falls to the ground and dies...’ or ‘unless you change and become like little children...’ and Paul, ‘what you sow does not come to life unless it dies’? They were talking about a mysterious way to know and experience eternal spiritual life, a vibrant quality of life that casts ordinary human experience into dark shadow.
I feel inspired to seek God more, to open myself more to his profound revelation, to walk more closely on the path he calls me to. I feel challenged to open my eyes, in Jesus’ words to ‘keep awake’, to notice the unnoticed, to value the unvalued and to be more thankful. And next time I eat a bag of tasty fish and chips, I will pause to savour, enjoy and appreciate every mouthful.
11/2/2012 03:59:44 am
A wonderful piece - inspiring & awakening
14/2/2012 03:33:26 am
20/3/2012 11:51:44 am
Thanks Fran - good to hear from you too! With blessings. Nick
14/2/2012 10:42:12 am
Another really inspiring blog. I find giving up food, especially tasty food, very difficult! In fact, I find giving up anything I want difficult!
20/3/2012 11:53:45 am
Thanks, Bridget. Your comments made me wonder: perhaps it's sometimes easier to think in terms of 'taking up' than 'giving up'? Nick
16/2/2012 05:34:12 am
Beautifully written Nick and beautifully said Bridget!
20/3/2012 12:01:48 pm
Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights, CM. You have been through some very tough challenges in life and it's inspiring to hear how you've managed to draw such positives from them. I love the idea of getting the mattresses down and enjoying good movies and lots of crisps together! God's blessing and peace to you and your family. Nick
19/3/2012 02:32:37 pm
20/3/2012 11:57:46 am
Thanks Antonio. Yes, it's a lesson I'm learning every day. I find it difficult to stay in the moment as an on-going way of being, to be really present to the moment, and not to get distracted by the past, the future or other preoccupations. It feels like an on-going journey of learning, discipline and discovery. With blessings. Nick
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