Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The best imitation of myself

I know that the song that bears this title is by no means optimistic, but in this post I mean to repurpose it.

One of the things that used to irritate me when I was talking to my grandmother was her tendency to redirect the conversation anytime we started to discuss negative topics. (The exception, of course, being the stupidity of George W. Bush.) As much as I may rail against the twin tyrannies of children and old people in our society, I was once a child and I will eventually be an old person, and the burgeoning yogini in me acknowledges the opportunities to learn from both. And after reading Stumbling on Happiness, I've become fairly certain that older folks have a perspective on personal development that I can learn from. So when ma grandmere changes the subject, I follow her lead.

This is all a roundabout way of acknowledging the benefits of faking it until one makes it. And it is what I intend to do while I am here in DC. Years ago my friend Dave suggested that running away to new cities to reinvent oneself is a futile endeavor. I agreed with him then, but I don't any longer. I think that the daily patterns of a person's life can begin to constrain behavior, the weight of habit shapes thoughts and feelings, the demands of routine can obscure opportunities for change. It should be noted that Dave doesn't believe that people can change, either.

The past week I've been fretting about a lack of routine. Some routine is good, like regular exercise and meditation. To that end, I have been trying to wake up at 5:30AM and go walking, returning home for some resistance training and breathing exercises. Following that, I'm trying to re-cultivate intellectual discipline by forcing myself to work on my thesis after breakfast. Not having to be at work until 9AM gives me a lot of time in the mornings. Also, perhaps foolishly, I've been following a progressive self-help (I prefer the term self-directed personal development) regimen prescribed by the site Tools to Life. It's cheesy, but it is helping me cultivate discipline, a new year's resolution from way back.

Ultimately, what I seek isn't a routine. It's a sense of purpose and centeredness that I haven't experienced, probably ever. And since I'm in a little bubble right now, where I don't really have to be accountable to anyone but myself, I feel like this is the time to build that capacity. It helps that I am working for an organization that thinks I have something of value to contribute to its endeavors. Maybe this is all a matter of reclaiming my sense of myself after my last job.

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