The Things You Look At Change
I've repeatedly gotten the question: what are things like in Peru at the moment?
In many respects, it feels like some scene in Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Pedro recently saw his shadow, so we've got at least one more week of a lockdown. What sort of things may open up after that, and what sort of continued restrictions will continue to be in place, is entirely unclear.
This is all one hecukva exercise in surrender, isn't it? Even the infectious disease experts barely know anything about what's going on. There's a certain degree to which we all have to let go of the steering wheel. I'm hardly going out on a limb when it feels like now is one of those times.
I recently got some terrific insights from my friend Zerin. He told me that it took a couple of weeks for him to really find a groove once the shutdown commenced. Now he's unquestionably feeling his oats, and life is grand. That resonates a lot with me.
While I wasn't unproductive during the first two weeks, my lack of a routine was brutal. It felt more like I was surviving instead of thriving. Add in the mandated hunker in a bunker curfew every day in Peru that starts at 4 PM and lasts until 4 AM, and I was feeling entirely off.
Thoughts think themselves, Sam Harris says, and I certainly had my share of not especially helpful ones. "I'd rather be running a retreat right now." "I'd rather be somewhere I could really enjoy the outdoors, like with my friend Sabrina in Kauai." "I'd rather be anywhere else which isn't as locked down." If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas, and those sorts of thoughts are unproductive. I've come to further realize: Here I am right now. What's the best I can do to maximize this present moment? It feels like I get rewarded when I see the world through that lens. Unbridled frustration can become total bliss instantaneously.
On the plus side for the first two weeks post-shutdown, I was able to crank out a bunch of stuff. I'd always put off doing an advanced health care directive, but in light of both the onset of a global pandemic and the lack of other pressing things to do, I couldn't claim that I was too busy. You might want to consider doing that if you haven't already. In the U.S., the AARP has some outstanding forms that comply with the state where you reside here: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/financial-legal/free-printable-advance-directives/. I also drafted a will. Cross those items off of the Things To Do List!
I've gotten a number of suggestions to write a book. Once again, my default, lame-ass retort was that I didn't have time. I can't object on those grounds anymore, so my good friend Martin and I have teamed up and are churning out some high-quality writing. It's the best writing I'm capable of doing. We're still contemplating how we'll ultimately package it, and even that's been a supremely enjoyable exercise in creativity. We're both really sparking the spark in each other. Who knows what will come of it, but undeniably it's made me a better writer and a better person, as well as inspiring me to make each day a masterpeice, so it's already paying massive dividends.
Once I nailed down my daily routine a couple of weeks in, I know the blueprint to kickstart a productive day. Additionally, I know that I can't try to trick myself into deviating from that ideal design. I once heard a coach express to his player that, "You ain't good enough to be an a-hole," and similarly I know that I can't adopt a bunch of bad practices and think I'll somehow alchemize them into gold. I get up in the 6 o'clock hour and then I get my steps in with an hour walk outside. I've gotten quite a few questions about what Iquitos is like now. With so few people out on the streets, Iquitos feels like an untapped playground. It's very bizarre, although a nice change of pace from its usual chaotic self. Once I return home, I've been able to drop into long pockets of flow when I can churn out some really good stuff uninterrupted for several hours in a row.
Calls with friends and video chats have been remarkably rejuvenating. I don't think I need all that much, but having real community is non-negotiable. As Sansa expresses in Game of Thrones, "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." It's been wonderful to catch up with so many of you. If I can do anything for you, please reach out!
Waves of real gratitude - and at times lots and lots of it - are certainly on the menu.
I've continued to do my best to appreciate the simple things. There's a deep beauty in the simplification of life. We take things for granted. It's a bug in the machine and in our programming. Doing my best to earnestly observe the comings and goings in some of the trees in the tiny courtyard out back of my place is a fascinating exercise. It's amazing how much goes on in the span of only ten minutes when I lock in and pay attention. It's amazing how I've become utterly devoted to admiring the moon every single night. I notice how the moon waxes or wanes by a few percentage points from the previous evening.
Our best ability is our availability, according to an old adage. I can't say I'm fully on board with that. I believe our best ability is our adaptability. Humans are incredibly able to adapt regardless of what the external conditions may be. Moreover, we are highly innovative and resilient when our backs are against the wall.
Some of our previous problems (without burning too many calories I'm thinking about things like 1) the so-called debate over the term Thanksgiving or 2) the unbelievably insane amount of outrage and vitriol people generated over the last season of Game of Thrones) seem like such small potatoes now, don't they? I'm impressed with the outpouring of common humanity and sacrifice amidst such devastation. It gives me hope that we'll disregard the petty squabbles and focus on the important things whenever we clear this hurdle. I'd like to think that I can be a small part of the solution. I'd also like to think that a lot of other people will do their part to simultaneously make the world a better place and lift up humanity.
Change the way you look at things, Wayne Dyer noted, and the things you look at change. In a world and in a universe in which the only constant is change, seeing the world from a new perspective makes me appreciate it, and all of you, much more.