Originally published Tuesday, 08 February 2022.
My son shares with us what his rowing teammate sitting behind him says to him as they move their shell through the early morning waters of Marina del Ray.
Over the phone after practice he translates: Let yourself be present for the moment; be mindful of your movements but not self-critical. This will help you be more aware of where you are, whom you are with, what is yours for you to do.
He is emotional on the phone when he tells us those words’ impact—words delivered to him with kindness and encouragement, not judgment. For he is, he would tell you, in his head a lot. I can relate to the ache of being self-conscious, feeling anxious about whether or not I am the person I am supposed to be.
It makes me realize how much I am get worn out with all the thinking I do that is, at best, not productive, and at worst, so damaging to my heart. The most dangerous part—it is self-focused. Thinking about time’s passing, about regret, about mistakes and things I want to do better. How is this helpful—when thought becomes toxic rather than wisdom?
Father, how do I guard my thoughts—how they influence my opinions, my feelings, my judgement, especially my actions towards others and my attitude toward myself?
A simple two word sentence becomes an invitation I need most: Surrender—which becomes a move toward appreciation of the present and a decision to not worry about the future, or even, things that aren’t mine to fix.
I know how self-awareness, being in tune with one’s opinions and feelings, can be an integral ingredient for personal health. It is important that we discern how our insecurities, our self-doubt, and our pain influence how we perceive and interact with the world. But a life dominated by thinking that focuses on the self rather than God—and the people He gives us to love—is a recipe for lack of joy, energy, and even hope.
What is the message your mind is telling you—about yourself, about life, about what matters? Can you trust it? How do you corral it, respect it, but contain it? How do you honor your thoughts and opinions while living with an attitude of selflessness and surrender? Will you join me in writing about the idea of thinking—its power, for good and for harm? Share it here, as a comment below, or with the Loop Poetry Project community right here.
Grateful for you,
I sit in darkness. The room,
a converted garage where we keep
our bikes on the wall and our desks
kissing each other near the bookshelves,
is still, although the Mountain View train
rumbles through a few miles away around six
and my dog will on occasion moan and then sigh
and lick his lips, his teeth clacking together after he yawns,
and then lick himself until I can’t block out the sound anymore
and demand that he stop but yet it is still, a stretched out
place where I am convinced the world is far away
and I am in some separate place accessible and
inaccessible even to myself and I work to
find clues as to my whereabouts, pulling
out a slice of memory—an uneasy
wrenching of the heart, but
it is really the present that
both haunts and invites,
the past crowding in,
wanting to be included while the current
moments want to stay untouched and unharmed.
And in the pauses of discussion between the two, a staggering
around like two drunken teenagers wanting to have their way, I let the stillness
quiet them, do the work I cannot accomplish on my own and light
a candle, its light flickering in brilliant warm gold while night
blinks open its eyes a bit and dark eases itself
out of the room.
This post appeared originally at jennifer.camp