From Autopilot to Conscious, Present, Empathetic

Sometimes I need a meeting with myself to feel anchored again. Plodding endlessly through the to-do list day after day is fine, but dreary, and can leave me feeling lost in the desert, parched, impatient, aimless.

Rattling around in my head are vanities, feeling ungrateful about wishing for a couple of inches of hair at Christmas and wanting a million more now, wanting back all the follicles that once upon a time were alive on my scalp. It’s not bad, I tell myself, better than none.

I’ve always been a self-soother. 

A former friend once told me I want it all. She was wrong then, and still is. I’ve never wanted it all, but today I do want back some of what I’ve lost.

I go for that coffee break. I go out for it for a change, not because I can’t have one in my office or my kitchen, but because I sometimes need a crowd to silence the internal chatter enough to be present to myself. I sit down and breathe deeply. I resist the temptation to get on with the Do list I know is at my fingertips, and instead, start with a little hobby writing. It’s a good bridge to the meeting.

Fingers tapping on my keyboard, eyes on the stream of human beings walking in and out. I used to do a lot of back-of-napkin writing. Now I’m in love with my Macbook—it’s much faster, allows my eyes to take in my surroundings as I write, and is infinitely easier to read and edit afterwards.

Men in ties, women in heels, chatty, sure professionals. Others in Joe or Lulu Lemon comfort. Middle-aged women in middle-aged fashions. Young happy faces in edgier outfits, ephemeral fashions destined for a very brief life. Some wardrobes clearly in need of cheering up, their owners either working too much or getting paid too little to care. Some very lined and tired faces, which I look away from—being relatively newly out of estrogen, aging still frightens me.

There are children bouncing and laughing, others sitting and watching. A blond and curly-haired toddler clearly and without any inhibition whatsoever taking full advantage of his diaper. Another brown-eyed boy weeping heart-brokenly. His mom has been ignoring him for what feels like a very long time, presumably not to give into whatever it is he’s after.  He’s so genuinely wet and sad though that it’s all I can do not to take him into my arms.

I log into the magazine inbox. It’s a Friday, and I’m happy there’s nothing new there. I look at the story I’d promised myself I’d edit today, and close the file. I remind myself this is supposed to be a coffee break, a slowing down, a meeting with myself, my real self, not my diligent, working, thinking personality. Much of what we do each day is automatic, habitual, unconscious. It’s the personality we’re comfortable wearing, not necessarily an expression of our real selves.

Hobby writing or nothing; that’s all for a few minutes right now.

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