the next six minutes
“Who are you?” she asks. And I know that the core of that question leads to another. “Are you living your life as who you are?”
“Who am I?” I ask myself. At fifty-four, shouldn’t I know? Shouldn’t I be able to answer this question with ease. Shouldn’t I?
Walt Whitman wrote, “I am large. I contain multitudes” And this is what I feel when I try to define myself. I am comfortable with my contradictions, my paradigms, my many iterations contained within this one body, this one life.
How do I then live as who I am when I who I am is so large and contains multitudes?
I pondered this question while out and about yesterday. Some people have their best ideas in the shower. Mine come in the car when I am alone having conversations with myself.
My mind wandered to something she said someone had told her … “Choose for now”
I paralyze myself with thinking that any choice I make is a lifetime choice. Or that any choice I make is a stake in the ground, a defining statement, a life manifesto. When it is simple a choice for how to be, how to live, as who I am for now.
For now. Two simple words which open all the possibilities for my many multitudes.
I remembered a conversation from a podcast ( which one and who was speaking is long forgotten) about how we expect our teens to know what to do with the rest of their lives. Barely formed minds are making decisions about their career, about who they are, about how they want to live … for. the. rest. of. their. lives. It’s daunting.
The speaker suggested asking instead, “What do you want to do for the next six months?” and he may have even broken it down further, “What do you want to do for the next six weeks” He then suggeste pursuing that thing wholeheartedly. Rinse and repeat. Eventually, you have a life.
So I am thinking, what if I ask myself, “how do I live as who I am for the next six months? six weeks?” and if that feels like too much … how about the next six days? Even that can be too much. If you are recovering from trauma or drowning in grief or simply overwhelmed with school lunches and laundry and diapers, life is hardly lived by days but by hours and minutes. So what about the next six hours … better yet … the next six minutes.
Right now, in this moment, thinking just barely ahead, “How can I live my life as who I am for the next six minutes” Six minutes doesn’t require a lifetime commitment. It doesn’t require a mission statement or manifesto. It doesn’t require me to have excavated and healed all my wounds. It simply is asking for me to be present and choose for this moment, who am I?
The thought makes me sit up taller. The question leads me to choosing fresh and nurturing food. The time frame is enough to water the plants and encourage myself that I am someone who keeps the plants alive. Six minutes is enough time to sit in quiet meditation and reset the day. I can make a cup coffee and savor the first sip. Hugs and kisses for six minutes.
It’s expansive. Spacious, even. Over the course of an average day, I could shift closer to living as who I am about one hundred and fifty times … every six minutes. The point is not about compulsively checking in with myself but is about awareness and intuitively course correcting. Think about how when you drive, your hands guiding the steering wheel are not locked solidly into one place. There are micro-movements that keep you on course. That’s what I’m talking about. A six minute micro movement. Choose for now.
So tell me, how are you living as who you are for the next six minutes?