Mindfulness (not just when it’s convenient)

Last weekend, I went to the Short North sidewalk sale with my friend Hannah. Typical as of late, I behaved like a distracted puppy in search of treats every time we passed a store having anything to do with furniture or home gardening. But alas, the greatest find had nothing to do with either of these.

Outside of one antique store was a man selling 6 crates full of records for $4 apiece. After some digging, I picked out five for Mike. I got him a record player last year for his birthday, but our selection is still pretty paltry.

I’m one of those people that likes good music and knows good music (I think) but can’t, even if my life depended on it, tell you the name of a song on cue or know which album is which. So – the exact opposite of Mike. He is a Jeopardy-like prodigy of music and knows every album ever, every song lyric (practically) and can be pretty opinionated. I picked five I thought were decent (with the help of the enthusiastic seller) and took them home.

Turns out, they were good albums! (Phew.) He was so stoked at the albums (and the prices) that we drove right back and purchased 10 more.

On the way home, we had a good laugh about how our perspective has changed: in college, Mike took some of his dad’s old music, removed the sleeves, and decorated his dorm room with them (who knows what happened to the actual records). I, on the other hand, am pretty sure I sold my dad’s Led Zeppelins and Pink Floyds in a garage sale when I was a teenager. Worse, I’m pretty sure I probably gave them away for like five bucks and then used the money to buy something dumb like purple eye shadow.

This has stuck with me all week. If only I’d realized what I had, appreciated its value, held on to it longer.

Note, this isn’t a blog extorting the value of saving everything you have and becoming a hoarder.

Instead, I’ve been in serious need of a slow-down lately. I’m to the point of setting three appointment reminders on my phone – one for the actual event and two preceding it to remind me 10 hours and 24 hours in advance so I don’t forget said appointment. I was still 20 minutes late to the dentist this week. I read my iPhone while I cross the street and walk down stairs and have become a generally annoying (and hazardous) person, trying to cram in as much as I possibly can to each day.

Part of this is necessary. I feel busy because I am busy, regardless of what The New York Times has to say about it. But it’s starting to wear.

I’m all about mindfulness and yoga – but typically I like to meditate and ruminate and just “be” when I’m “being” in a situation or part of my life that I love. Be mindful on the beach! Rest, and breathe, and soak in a beautiful afternoon, a long morning run, a restorative yoga practice, your cat thunder purring on your lap. Ok. Who wouldn’t?

But relax and just be about my something that’s half-finished? Up in the air? Breathe in and smile at the destruction in my backyard, left in the wake of my tree removal (entire flagstone patio is destroyed) – is this even possible? Ack. My life has felt very half-finished lately. I see my to-do list and feel like crumpling it up.

During yoga class this week, I had a strange moment in tree pose – a moment of lightness, one in which I could imagine myself floating above my own body and the room. All of the stress and frustration is really super-imposed. None of it has to be done immediately (well… except my work deadlines). You’re here. You’re breathing. Life’s good. Calm the eff down.


So I guess my point is that I’m trying to find mindfulness and rest – even if that requires some deep excavation – in things that are half-finished or even stressful and shitty.

What probably seemed to me like a crusty box of records in the attic 15 years ago would make me so happy today. I’ll likely say the same thing about my life in another 15 years, maybe even my body, its abilities, and this “in-between” phase of our lives. I’ll look back and miss all of it.