Learning Not to Try


I know the posts have been sparse recently due to the worsening electrical sensitivity to my laptop, but I think I’ve mostly remedied that issue with an external mouse and keyboard.

I’m here on our annual trip to Florida, our fourth visit. The weather has been very nice so far, but I expected to feel different than I do, perhaps more like a previous experience here, more relaxed or more something, but I don’t know what, exactly.

When we make this trip, I usually treat myself to a copy of tricycle magazine for plane or beach reading, and there happened to be a little article in there that talked about how we humans are always missing the experience at hand in favor of trying to have an experience. At the very moment I read that phrase, I knew that’s what I had been doing ever since we arrived, probably even before we left. It’s so interesting that the same idea we’ve seen over and over, finally written in just the right way, hits home and we “get it”.

Now that I am aware of what I’ve been doing, I can try to allow myself to experience what “the 4th time” in Florida is like, rather than trying to make it feel like the 1st time, or the 2nd, or the 3rd. Those experiences were each unique, and now I can allow this one to be so, as well.

I think this is one of the most challenging aspects of being a human – this tendency to strive, to always be trying to force life to take the shape we wish it to have. Even armed with the awareness and the experience that this approach of forcing life to bend to my will does not work and makes others around me unhappy as well, I continue to discover the ever so subtle force of striving at work in various areas of my life.

I am now practicing honoring whatever form the present moment takes on my vacation this year, but I find that the pull of the will, the undercurrent of I want and I don’t want it to be this way, doesn’t just disappear. So I try to include the sensation of that resistance as part of my experience, as well, reminding myself that this moment is the only one that I have, so I may as well try to make friends with it.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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