this is a concept i’ve wrestled against and worked with over the past SEVERAL years. i once had a friend, and i don’t know if we still are friends or not, but i once had a friend who was the single clumsiest person i know. constantly doing ridiculous things, spilling things, knocking stuff over – you know the type. i began to really observe this person, watch what they did, listen to the things that came out of their mouth every time they did something clumsy. i came to the conclusion that it was simply a lack of awareness of their surroundings. i am not a clumsy person, i never REALLY have been, so i personally have a hard time believing that someone is inherently clumsy. i would have to posit the possibility that it’s simply them being unaware of what is around them. they are so focused on where their feet are going that they forget they have the rest of their body to look out for. or they are so focused thinking about something (or thinking about nothing) that they don’t look around.
how often do we do that? how often are we running simply on autopilot, unaware of what is going on around us? how many times do you get in your car to go somewhere and end up at work? or at school? or miss your turn?
i have spent a great deal of energy making it a habit to be more aware of my surroundings. i’m certainly not jason bourne aware, but i see what goes on. i notice how many people are around me, mostly what they’re doing, the stuff they have, stuff that’s left out laying around. i notice, for the most part, when people come and go and things like that. i really make an effort to notice where my stuff is, where it’s sitting, what it is, can it spill, etc. i’ve realized that by doing that, i’m a much more careful (though i’m not sure that’s the right word) person. i’m more aware. i engage in my surroundings, not just in my immediate task. i don’t knock things over and i don’t (generally) run into stuff.
i’ve really been noticing this awareness, or at least becoming aware of it once again, in the practice room. i practice in the mornings when i first get to school. i’m the principle flutist in the concert band so i make sure that i know my part. lately, there has been a piano player who is also “practicing”, and by that i mean they play a series of notes (mostly incorrectly) and over the course of time they’re there, THEY DON’T GET ANY BETTER!! this person practices a scale and it sounds just as bad when i get there as it does when i leave. the ONLY thing that i can think of is that they are expecting their fingers to do all the work. they aren’t engaging their brain to think of the notes, the pattern of the keys, nothing. they aren’t slowing down enough to LEARN the notes. they are simply trying to play it at tempo, even though they’re playing incorrectly at tempo.
this has been SO fascinating to me.
i’m very glad that this person has been down there for the past few days to remind me to be intentional in my own practicing. i know how easy it is to go on autopilot and then how easy it is to screw up, time after time after time. i’ve made sure to SLOW DOWN and really get to know the notes, the fingerings, alternate ways of playing things. i also am learning that the point at which i am unable to engage myself any longer, it’s time to stop. when my brain stops focusing on what i’m doing, it’s time to move on. i can’t learn anything with my brain turned off. it’s really hard for me in the practice room because i get bored down there really easily. especially with new music because i don’t know it. i’m unfamiliar with it and that makes it REALLY hard for me to practice. it’s hard for me to play a series of notes that have no meaning to me. i get bored, i get frustrated, and then i start to have that perception of that piece. i start to panic when we have to play a piece or when a certain difficult part shows up because i haven’t taken the time to break it down and look at it, i don’t know how it fits in. that’s no way to play.
lately, i’ve definitely revamped my enthusiasm for being intentional. i want to continue to be intentional about what i’m doing, aware of my surroundings, and getting the most out of things that i can. the most out of my education, out of my friendships, out of life. i don’t want to live life on autopilot, surprised at where i end up, wondering how i got there. i want to enjoy life as it passes.
it’s this enthusiasm that gets me up at 6 am every day to do yoga, that will get me out of bed to run in the mornings, that make doing school work less painful that it could be, that will make me the best wife that i can be. it’s going to be work, for sure, but i think that it will be worth it. i think that being able to look outside and see things and fully engage in my activities will really increase what i get out of it. i think that will make life that much more enjoyable and that much easier to live.
are you intentional or are you living life on autopilot?