As part of my professional development this summer, I was in a writing workshop and we were asked to do a quickwrite from Charles Bukowski’s “The Lucky Ones”
A specific line from the poem resonated with me –
“… most with their radios on as loud as possible as they try not to think or remember”
I have noticed this trait in myself. The default to autopilot. Whether it comes through constant engagement with media, or just settling in to life patterns that are known, practiced and routinized. It is at these times that imperceptibly, I’m letting my mind go to cruise control. Letting the media tell me what is going on. Tell me what to think. Tell me what to do. It is so much easier if someone just tells me – because I’m a “doer”.
There is a satisfaction in getting things done.
Off of my to-do list.
Bring on the next task.
One after another.
But I have come to realize
This default mode,
The pattern of doing,
This is slavery.
This is comatose.
My family needs me to be present.
My students need me to be in the moment.
My friends and colleagues need me to be engaged.
They all need me. Awake. Alert. Alive.
I want freedom. Freedom from dullness. Freedom from being shrouded in a cloud of everyone else’s thinking; everyone else’s direction, and missing the chance to explore my own.
I want to know
what I think,
what I believe.
and why I do, what I do.
I can only know that through reflection.
Purposeful time to ponder.
I make that time when I am running.
I set that time aside when I am writing.
I prioritize that time when I am reading.
This is where I come alive.
This is where I think.
This is where I find my voice — a voice that I can shout to the world, even if nobody else is listening, even if everyone else is trying hard not to think, or remember.
I want to remember. I want to know. I want to LIVE fully aware, thinking, asking, and learning.
Because I remember the words of Dr. Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Living in default mode,
Is not living.
I’m switching off the autopilot.
Ready for this plane to swerve a little.
A little turbulence reminds me I’m living.