I recently took a drive down the famed Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On that drive, I became re-acquainted with that water in which we all may find ourselves swimming.
On many parts of the drive, the more modern highway runs alongside the original “Mother Road.” I had a moment in which I was going back and forth between the two different parts of the journey. I could appreciate what each had to offer. On the super highway I moved quickly from point A to point B. It was easy to put the pedal to the metal all the while being careful not to run into the other thousands who were doing something similar. It felt familiar. I was really getting somewhere.
Conversely, on Route 66 there was a different experience. I noticed the fields in Illinois and the beautiful rock formations throughout Missouri. Of course stopping along the way to visit all of those iconic places I’d only read about up until now was too enjoyable and easy. I wasn’t lost in simply getting to the destination and finally, arriving.
It became a reminder for me as to what I was choosing to put my attention on. While it is easy to blame the tv, the computer, the interruptions and the road we are travelling, we have a choice about what we are cultivating in our lives. This is the essence of one hundred percent responsibility and commitment numero uno at CLG. What are we choosing, and not just in the environment but also, within our own attention and awareness?
Computers seem here to stay as does the internet and all of the wonderful things that can become the best methods to do our work and also, the best traps to leave ourselves. The compulsion to check our phones is no different than the compulsion to hurry up and get somewhere so that finally, we can be happy. It’s as if we are riding a bike as fast as we can to get away from the things that we don’t like, all the while riding as fast as we can to get to something we think we will. It almost never feels as if we are simply riding the bike.
Alas, we never arrive.
A side trip on this journey might be helpful for a moment. Before wondering too harshly why you, and those around us, might continually pull off this pattern of feeling rushed and overwhelmed, it’s worthy to acknowledge our conditioning and our own neurophysiological design. The untrained mind will continually look for things that are threatening (i.e. taking your time to get your work done and not looking like a lunatic when it seems to be the way things are done). Additionally, we are all prey to the “arrival fallacy.” Tal-Ben Shahar describes this in his book “Happier.” It is the belief that when we arrive at our final destination, then we will be happy. Once I get to this next place, like my list being handled and all the boxes being checked, then I can relax. In other words, it isn’t our fault and we can take responsibility for it. This is likely one of our greatest evolutionary challenges.
On our journey, what are we choosing? This is no small question and taking the moment to ask it can make all the difference in how we perceive the road.