Ask Parvati 40: Distractions – Keeping Your Eye On The Prize – Part 2: Is It An Opportunity, Or A Distraction?
(Continued from Focus, Discipline and Courage)
Every moment in every day counts. It is a valuable and powerful asset that we can use to build our dreams or squander our joy. We each have our own way to remain focused on our goals. Some will journal while others will visualize while others will self-talk and perhaps others do a combination of those. Whatever works for you, put that first in your day, every day. Make sure your goals are right up front and central in your life. Every day, give your life to yourself fully and completely, so you may serve the world. A closed hand cannot receive and an empty heart cannot give.
This brings to mind basketball. I enjoy basketball. The players have an agility and rhythm that I also see in dancers. The athletes in this game can at times seem to transcend time and gravity in a way that amazing artists can do. If you have been to a basketball game, you know that when a player is given the chance for a point shot, fans in the stands just behind the basket often furiously wave brightly coloured or neon wands to distract the shooter.
Sometimes it can feel like life is doing that to us, waving colourful, distracting wands by bringing forward all sorts of events and happenings that seem to pull our focus from our desired goal. But as a trained athlete knows, focus is an acquired skill: keep your mind in the game and eye on the prize. As we face the unfolding of our New Year’s plans and resolutions, we too must learn to keep our eye on the prize.
Sometimes it seems we want life to be uni-dimensional, easy to predict and singular. But it is not. Every moment is filled with possibility, which is part of the magnificence and divine beauty of being alive. As I mentioned in an earlier blog on discernment, we must learn to clearly see along our path the difference between an opportunity that moves us towards our desired goals and a distraction that pulls us away from our true joy.
A few months ago, I was in a focused creative flow in my studio, working on new musical material. It was nothing short of feeling like I was in heaven. The project was time-sensitive and was due for submission the following day. I was totally committed to that success. Or was I?
While I was in the thick of the creative process, my doorbell rang. It was a friend who had spontaneously dropped by unannounced with a friend of his he really wanted me to meet. At first, I felt happy to see my friend and open to meeting his new friend, but then quickly realized that this meant that I was not in my studio creating. I did not know what to do.
My old habits kicked in, and the overly “nice” girl, who is afraid to say how she really feels and wants to make everyone happy, came out with a smile. Rather than making the visit short and saying it was not an ideal time for me, I offered them tea, then dinner and even a long visit in my studio. The new friend is a electronic music producer, so I was even further tempted and sidetracked by shop-talk and technical trick swapping.
One could argue that the visit was useful in terms of keeping me on path, because we did share information that could have helped my project. But why then, once they left, did I feel so depleted?
When we follow our path and do what is in alignment with our highest good, we feel rooted, vital and expansive, no matter what our mind may think or our emotional self may feel. Truth is always clear like a sharp sword.
With the unexpected visit, my emotional self kicked in with feelings of guilt, fuelled by my old childhood people-pleasing patterns. My mental self was seduced by the tempting tech talks, which I rationalized as being potentially useful. Meanwhile, my heart and soul were sinking. If I had a true commitment to the success of my goals and my deepest joy, I would have made a short visit and been more honest with my needs. In hindsight, I see that would have been completely fine. And frankly, people that I would consider friends would understand.
Where I got confused was in thinking that perhaps the spontaneous appearance was grace, helping me to fulfill my goals. But the grace was not in saying yes to the visit, but to learn to say no.
If we look at the basketball game, it is clear to us that the player is to keep his eye on his target and should not get distracted by the wiggling wands. Could you imagine if the athlete stopped the game, muscle tested, went inside, asked himself if the wiggling wands were a sign from God that he was supposed to miss his shot and instead pull out a dinner spread? We see that the idea is clearly ridiculous. But we can do that to ourselves daily, and many times a day.
Every day, take a moment first thing in the morning to review your goals for your life, your goals for this year and your goals for this day. Know what brings you joy. Imagine the day fully supporting your heart’s desire.
You will be tested, but that is part of life. The wiggling wands will show up in the most unsuspected ways, like spontaneous knocks at your door that pull you away from your truest joy. Be your own world-class athlete and focus on shooting to score, in whatever way fills you with inspired grace.
Enjoy the gift of this day.
PS: A reminder that Thursday is the deadline to submit questions for next week’s Ask Parvati.