I like the sound of the phrase ‘The Art of Being’. I find something contained within those simple words that hints at more than the practical details of practicing practices and the slow pace of incremental change over time; it suggests nuances of self and experience that exist beyond the logistics of resources and effort in practices. As lovely as it sounds, however, the Art of Being remains tangled up in practices that need practicing. As with being an amazing singer, or gifted artist, perhaps, the beauty of raw talent is a wonder that holds potential to be further improved upon with skill, craftsmanship, and experience…all things that come from practice, and possibly some coaching or education.

Sorting out ‘art’ from ‘science’, and taking those next steps from talent (or good fortune) to skill and craftsmanship, to design and engineering, is an experience of its own. It is the journey from awareness to real understanding. From “I’m doing it!” to “Of course, I’ve got this.” From asking questions to… understanding, or at least to the threshold of building real understanding. To be clear, I am still asking questions, and still approaching my circumstances and experience with a beginner’s mind in every  moment that I remain mindful to do so; there are still practices involved, still requiring verbs, will, and choice.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

I am rereading The Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

For me, now, the ‘art’ in The Art of Being speaks to an increased level of ‘ease’ within myself, and how I approach my experience moment-to-moment. It implies a heightened level of acceptance, of self-compassion, and self-appreciation. It implies a reduction in assumptions, expectations, and attachment resulting in an increased level of calm, contentment, and even merriment. I expect to find that someone skilled in The Art of Being will be emotionally self-sufficient, accepting of themselves and not inclined to take the emotions or experience of others personally, and to be so without doing emotional harm to others thoughtlessly or by intention.

I feel a bit as I do out on a long hike, checking my map for significant landmarks, intersections, places I’d like to stop, or turn toward another direction…I’ve got my eye on the next turn, the next goal, and the signpost I am looking for reads ‘The Art of Being’. I’m not discontent on this path so clearly marked ‘Practicing the Practices’, and it is an important part of my journey. This is, however, a journey; there is more life to live, more ground to cover.  I am my own cartographer, and I am placing an ‘x’ on this particular spot…right over…here. The Art of Being seems a good direction to head, a worthy goal, and a good place to find myself farther along the way. This is not a journey about destinations as much as it is about steps, and continuance, and walking on…

Taking time to consider the journey, to rest, to observe, to enjoy, all have value of their own; there is no need to rush life.

Taking time to consider the journey, to rest, to observe, to enjoy, all have value of their own; there is no need to rush life, now is lovely.

One of the challenges for me day-to-day is remaining committed to the practices that seem most effective, and not allowing myself to become distracted by old patterns, ineffective programming, and moments of distress caused by the clash between historical expectations and change over time. It is almost inevitable in the context of relationships that (because we are each having our own experience) I may occasionally feel a bit like some mysterious quantum particle – I’m not quite in the place I’m expected to be, as a person, but it isn’t obvious ‘where I’m at’ until a specific outcome is observed – but having made the observation, I may have already moved on to better things by way of that very observation, itself. Similarly, I may have a sense that I’ve ‘come so far’, only to observe that in some moment, the incremental change is far smaller than anticipated, at least right then. It’s hard to keep up with, myself. I continue to practice the practices that are most effective, and I am learning to set aside the expectations altogether and give myself a break from constant criticism, and demands, and enjoy the journey in my own good company.

I am using my current search for a live/work space to promote deeper understanding of where I am in life, now, as well as putting focus on ongoing challenges with attachment; investing willfully in my own needs feels powerful, and provocatively hints at growth to come, in an environment uniquely suited to me. Although it feels ‘overdue’, I don’t allow myself criticism of the relevant decision-making that put it off so long; each of those decision-making points in life have been important, and each one handled in the way that seemed best at the time, based on my understanding of events, and of self, in that moment. Regret and bullying myself over past choices drives stress, feeds attachment, and continues the sort of self-defeating beat down that impedes clear thinking in the present. Besides – I deserve better than that from me. When I treat myself badly, I also make it much more difficult to treat others well.

The weekend was pretty good. I enjoyed it a great deal. I had a couple challenging moments yesterday, both missed opportunities to more skillfully manage my emotional experience, and to more clearly express myself, both very illustrative of how much further there is to go on this journey, and how much value there is in love. Wonderfully, they were both moments, and moments pass, in fact – in the case of yesterday, both challenging moments passed by like spring showers, and didn’t linger. Progress.

There is more to do, and farther to go. There is life is to be lived, and there is pleasure to be enjoyed, and further progress to make. There is a woman I love, to smile at in the mirror. I’ve got practices to practice as I continue down this path, on my way to The Art of Being.