How many of you saw that crazy ending to the Vikings-Seahawks football game on Sunday? For those who did, I’m sure the last thing you want is to be reminded of the pain of that defeat.
But for me, the pain is indicative of something. And so it serves as a growing opportunity — one I happened to have been corresponding with my brother about the morning of the game.
To my brother I wrote the phrase “getting down to brass tacks.” I was referring to my current process eliminating the preoccupying activities I engage in (killing time on the internet, snacking) as well as ceasing how wound up I become about things that don’t warrant such emotion (social issues…or sports). It’s one thing to watch a contest and appreciate the skill and the drama. It’s another to live through the game, and thus, have one’s mood (even self-worth) determined by its outcome.
So for the last several years, I’ve slowly eased away from sports, usually by planning activities for Sunday afternoons. This last weekend, I was pretty disciplined and just kept the TV off for most of the game while I worked. But then I saw online that it was competitive toward the end. I turned on the TV — to punish myself, I guess.
Ah, those old feelings. I hunched toward the TV with nervousness, stomach tightening, and then…
skepticism: “There’s no way the Vikings are gonna pull this off.”
disbelief: “Oh my gosh, the Vikings are going to pull this off!”
confusion/acceptance: “I can’t believe they didn’t pull this off…”
After the loss, my mind wanted to rerun the ending and imagine it going differently.
Nope. Wasn’t gonna do it.
I turned off the TV and went about my day.
Whether it’s sports, food, a grudge with another person, a political issue or candidate, or just good ol’ fashioned killing time, I (we) can decide to clear all that preoccupation away and get down to the brass tacks of life.
But if I get rid of all the time-wasters and things I get wound up about, what am I left with? Who are we without all that extra stuff we attach to or escape within? The answer, I have discovered, is a deeper self— or perhaps a truer, more loving energy or entity working through me.
Instead of watching football this season, I went to the coffeeshop to write or I took dance classes. One Sunday afternoon last month, sitting in my chair not exactly sure what to do with myself, I simply went for a walk. I discovered an Indian gift shop in my Minneapolis neighborhood, where I bought some Christmas presents. Instead of killing time or getting wrapped up in a game — avoidance and vicarious — I got up and lived.
When I don’t fill my head, heart, and time with noise, I leave room for the music of life to play out — chords of fundamental, rich aspects of living: discovery, openness, generosity. These “brass tacks” produce the moments we’ll look back on when old and grey — and most appreciate as we’re living them.
This article was adapted from my weekly email to family and friends. If you’d like to be included, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. And while you’re at it, tell me a little about yourself:)