You remember scientific method? We learn about it in elementary school, it’s the basic practice of scientists and researchers when a theory is ready to be tested. My school had two science fairs that I can remember. One year I tested the viscosity of motor oil. My step-dad at the time helped me to build this huge display box complete with a light bulb powered by a car battery and test tubes. It was awesome! I would turn this lever and these different oils would all spill into their own cups and you could watch how quickly or slowly the different types of oils would pour. Long story, short; it got me second place…. I lost to a friend of mine who did an “experiment” on what would happen if you cleaned pennies with lemon juice…I’m over it, I swear…stop asking…. I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.
I got off track
I did an experiment the other day. It was pretty simple, I asked myself one question: “What would happen if I went through the entire day without saying a word?” Simple enough, right? I was excited! I planned on going to bed early, getting up early, not turning on the TV, not listening to any news or keeping up with any sports. It was going to be interesting to say the least. I woke up to my alarm. Went about my normal routine, let the dog out, let the dog back in, fed him, fed myself, made some coffee, and sat down at the dining room table to my many notebooks and the computer. Our house, having been built in the 60’s, has sliding glass doors on both sides of the dining room. My wife and I hardly ever get the chance to open both doors but I did on this day. I had been up for about an hour and a half and things began to occur for me. My dog for instance; he didn’t bark, he didn’t look at me confused, he didn’t panic, he didn’t do anything! He just sat with me. He accepted what I was doing and didn’t ask for a reason. Now there’s a very real chance that he can’t read my mind and, therefore, didn’t know any difference from any other day other than he could go out two different doors whenever he wanted but he didn’t need me to say anything.
I spent the morning at the dining room table and I came away with some pretty incredible insights, more on that later though.
I had been going back and forth with myself about whether or not I should go somewhere during my day. Exposing myself to noise and people might break this streak I was on of not saying a word yet but as I felt the hours melt away from this day I looked at Chief (our dog) and decided he was right…we needed some air. Living in LA you have to be very intentional about where you go (and when) because it could mean the difference of forty-five minutes or your twenties.
Santa Monica is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. So much life, so much noise, so hard to find parking. The tail end of Route 66, you’re literally walking the end of a highway. Not many roads are made of wood these days. Chief and I slowly made our way from one end of the pier to the other in about three hours. I intentionally went from one bench to another spending a few moments at each. Chief is not one for beaches, or waves, noise, strangers…most anything but was still willing to follow me wherever I went. I wish I had his confidence. With every new bench was a new perspective and I tried to pay attention to that. I’m not talking about making out a pros and cons list, I went deeper than that. I allowed myself to be mindful enough to finally take account of the past ten months. Process how far I had come and how far I still had to go. Even as I write that sentence I remember that this is about you…not me, but I hope my experiences can be your insights. So here were a couple of insights:
Us therapists will talk a lot about this with our clients. It’s incredible how often we accept the idea that we’re not capable. So sudden is our acceptance of that idea that we seem to take it on as reflex. When you start examining your resilience, you examine your potential. I believe the two go hand in hand for a reason. Think about what you most want to be become. What is it? Don’t limit it to just a job description either, I’m not talking about what you want to do, I’m asking: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BECOME? It pertains to more than just a simple career move. What will you be in that career? Because there’s a stark difference between someone with an employee mentality and an owner’s mentality…and he or she can absolutely be doing the same job. Are you happy with “good enough”? Because chances are you’re not but you’re too afraid to reach for anything past that. Why? Because you, me, and everybody else have gotten bogged down by the idea that good enough is good enough. I’m not talking about being entitled to something – quite the opposite – I’m saying that we give up and don’t put in the work because if we never have to try then we never have to fail. You’re far more resilient than that. You’re far more capable than that. I think what you’ll find is the more you lean into what you were made to be, the more resilience you’ll realize you have. Because when we buy into what we’re made of, we don’t need as much lifting up as we think we do. That’s a big key right there isn’t it? We love the support we receive but we can’t be spoon-fed encouragement from others forever. Sooner or later birds have to fly, fish have to swim, and you have to move.
It’s easy to doubt. It’s easy to assume you’ll be left for dead by it rather than propelled. It takes forever, it’s never simple, and it demands a lot out of you until the very end. It’s a challenge, it’s a teacher, it’s a drill sergeant, it…. ugh it’s the worst. We can be honest here. There’s no judgment. Even while we exhaustedly jump through all the fiery hoops The Process puts us through - it never lets us down. You get out what you put in. There is no such thing as an “overnight success” although we’d like to think that. We’d like to think that because we’d like for it to be easy. If there’s anything I’ve learned over this past year, and something that has been continually emphasized, it’s that things are never easy, they are never overnight, and they are always worth it. That’s usually a hill I like to fight on. If something is easy - is it worth it? We are doubtful when things are too easy. You see it in movies all the time, and it unfolds in front of you often but when you are in pursuit of something – better it be difficult…then you know you really mean it. Funny thing about going through the process of something; it is never forceful. We can choose to jump ship anytime we want. It is an open invitation but an insistent teacher.
The sun was starting to go down when Chief and I left the pier. We walked slowly back up to the entrance. I’m not quite sure how to explain what I was feeling but it’s kinda like what you experience when you get done listening to a really good sermon or an encouraging speaker, or like when you have a really deep conversation with a friend, there’s just something about “wearing” your insight that grants you a little different walk. As much as I’d like to think of some experiences like they’re being viewed through a lens, I’m sure I looked a little silly taking deep breaths and letting the sun hit my face.
We got back to the house and I sat in silence again. It had been a little tough trying to sit quietly when you’re carrying a camera on a gorilla pod, curious folks want to know what you’re doing, what you're shooting, etc. I sat on my couch. Part of me was relieved the day was done. Another part of me was a little sad. I didn’t want to let the moment go but it had served its purpose. I accepted it and started to think more towards what life had in store for me the next day. My phone would start to ring again, conversations would be had, and the loudness of life would be back. An all too quick death for such a day but I had no say in the matter. I think it’s better that way.
There are so many things I came away with that day and I’ll be sharing it all with you over the next few weeks but in the mean time I hope this was something that helped you. I don’t want to pretend to be the expert on all things…whatever this is but I do hope you find some use for it. Let me know your thoughts! I never want this to be a one-sided conversation.
I hope this letter finds you well.
With all the love in my heart,