The autopilot in us keeps us so far from making choices that our lives go by like getting to work — can’t even remember how we got there.
I tell myself that if life wasn’t so full and whirling I’d be more of a participant instead of bystanding But getting in “the flow” isn’t singular and it isn’t the same for each of us. While I suspect that lots of us get caught in a fast flow, I don’t know how many of us feel overwhelmed by it. Nor do I know how many of us realize how many different “flows” are there for us.
For me, with the cognitive sequelae of multiple sclerosis (and for other people whose chronic illness or hidden disability does the same to them — chemo brain comes to mind) what I remember and what I miss, is the ability to click it out, project after project, day after day, for years. I stayed on top of things, moved and shook my world. And I felt I created my world, all I was really doing was joining someone else’s flow. Nevertheless, by America’s professional and monetary standards I counted myself a success.
Today, I fail to take into account how much life has changed in the years since I moved and shook my world. Looking back, technology hasn’t been my friend. Today I’m outsmarted by phones and made (too) aware of bad hair days because of someone’s visual access to me. Moreover, being lost in the internet is akin to being down the rabbit hole, where time is immaterial or at least irrespective of my reality.
Like a merry-go-round that some bigger kid has pushes faster and faster, I’m dizzy from the motion and tired from hanging on so tight.
Not meaning to be dramatic or negative, let me be both: if I was somebody else biting into the pickle I’m in, I’d spit it out.
So what does this have to do with being intentional? Simple. We don’t have to stuff the whole pickle into our mouths at once. Nor do we have to eat the whole thing. Part of the lack of intentionality is being black or white, all or nothing, impulsive. Choice is instinctively exercised by most (all?) organisms as a way of preservation. That my cat won’t approach the blow-dryer unless she first makes sure it’s dead and can’t hurt her is demonstration of intentionality. How odd, then, that multiple times a day the hair dryer beats up the most evolved organism on the planet.
Turning on the computer doesn’t mean I’ll sit in front of it for 12 hours; I make that choice. Choosing how to live those quickening days needs to be as intentional as that. Thought-full, not automatic. Damnable that choosing to get out of the fast flow is so difficult to do.
Ultimately, that final final choice isn’t one we’re allowed to make.