Stop. Be. Run: Real Life Treadmills and their Cognitive Counterparts and that Moment When You Quit Playing Silly Games in Your Head and Simply ARE
I've never much cared for treadmills. Treadmills allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment in being active while removing natural benefits of that activity. Part of what is great about running is being able to go somewhere, breathing outside air. A treadmill saves you from potential discomfort and replaces it with vertigo and TV. A terrible trade, if you ask me.
I woke up this morning with my head running on a to-do treadmill. Not going anywhere in actuality, but imagining all the places to go and all the things to do. Feeling overwhelmed, behind, unable to catch up with the seemingly endless call of activity. Like its real-life cousin, the to-do treadmill seduces the mind with the lie that activity is productivity, bidding the next circular thought forward. Both kinds of treadmills also have a fetish for sounds and screens. "Don't think, DO!" they say. "And while you do the thing without going the place, we'll keep you stimulated with these colored pixels!" As gyms can often be temples of good intentions and pretense, so can my work desk with my laptop be. The intervention begins with internal questions and realizations: "Why do I keep running when this is clearly not getting me anywhere? How do I break the cycle of distracted spinning and move into meaningful action?"At some point, all of this thinking and wishing and planning and wondering and feeling overwhelmed and anxious and will just leave me feeling stuck, not empowered. Frustrated, not taking action. Often gradually, I become aware that I cannot fight fire with fire, and so I step off the treadmill.
I walk outside.
I slow my pace gradually.
I pray. I chant. I breathe.
I stop moving.
I exhale preoccupations and to-dos.
I inhale peace, gratitude, the love of God.
I let go of my identity-attachment to all the things I could ever do.
I take in the beauty that is all around me, Nature in all her unhurried glory.
All I am is who I am, with God, right now.
Lying outside in the sun, I am.
It is difficult to describe all of what God does in that space, but suffice it to say that I am a new person when I get up.
I am not worried. I am not hurried. I'm me.
Now, when it's time to run, I can run outside and actually get somewhere. When it is time for work, I will have traction and a deeper sense of meaning in what I do.
Stop. Get off the treadmill. Be a person. Then go, with full personhood in tact and ready for real experiences and meaningful work.