Feb Experiment: Be Still

purple-castI’m behind in writing about this, but my February experiment was more or less thrust upon me when I broke my hand.

I had just put in my notice at trinket the day before to spend more time helping Maddie. We needed to double down on her therapies to try to get back on track after a recent weight drop; per Einstein we couldn’t just keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.

But even those therapies only take so many hours per day, so I was already facing the possibility of having some slack time — which is always a challenge for an engineer.

As you can probably guess, I had been compiling a mental list of projects I might tackle in bits and pieces whenever the girls didn’t need my help. Some things I want to build, some things I want to learn, and some things I’ll be writing about in future months…

Then the purple cast happened.

Go go go…

My first instinct, actually, was to press ahead with my projects, hand and all… anything to avoid that maddening feeling of being idle… but landscaping with one hand is a just not an efficient use of time. (Writing is far slower as well; but I still want to do as much of it as I can — I learned that much from my January Experiment.)


But a nagging thought started to form around the fact that I was so opposed to having idle time. Why do I find it so challenging? I decided that I need to find out, so I reshuffled my monthly experiment plans and February, thus far, has been the month that I am doing my best to just be.

(Yes, those are my abs.)

I am no expert on meditation, and unlike most of the time I haven’t taken the time to read up on it at all thus far. This isn’t meditation, actually… this month’s experiment is far simpler… I’m merely trying to catch myself whenever I start to do something to “distract” my brain from the here and now.

First-world Distractions

I’ve never had any real interest in TV or Facebook; but I can easily while away hours reading up on science, technology, psychology, even history and politics… and while I’ve learned some interesting stuff, it has been totally without intention, and isn’t advancing the cause.

What cause? That’s part of what I’m trying to figure out, actually… and I’ve realized that this constant mental motion is hindering that quest.

The Goal

On the surface this might sound like I’m just trying to cull a few time-wasters from my week. But it’s much more than that, to me. Soon I will set about creating the next chapter of my life. I want it to be intentional, and crafted to maximize happiness on several different planes (me, family, community, perhaps world) as things go along. But I have always been fuzzy about my direction, and before I start down another path, I want a clearer picture of something. Not where I’m going, exactly, because that will change… rather I want to be clear on what happiness looks like — otherwise how can I be confident that I’m creating a life well-lived?

So this month whenever I find myself compelled to research some intriguing but non-essential fact on Google, I shut the computer and look outside instead. Whenever I enter a new room, I try to actually look around and see it. I’m trying to share more of what’s in my head, in order to be less inside my own skull and more present.

So by the end of February, I hope to get to the place where I can just be still and fully present for an entire hour. 

It has not been easy at all, so far — but already it’s been worthwhile.


(Image credit MeditationMusic.net)

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6 Responses

  1. Julia says:

    Very well said and written, Steve! We miss you and wish for a very peaceful February <3

  2. Pardees says:

    Hi Steve, good luck finding a direction you want to take! I’m doing some mindfulness practice myself and it’s very helpful. I miss seeing you on Tuesdays and Thursdays! 🙁

  3. Jenn says:

    So simple, yet so difficult! It is illuminating, though, to learn to step back, to just be in the space in which thoughts, emotions, etc., arise – and realize that there is a substrate, a place, a stillness, underneath it all. I have really enjoyed the snippets I’ve read lately in Tolle’s “Stillness Speaks.” One from yesterday talked about how most of us mistakenly think the Now (his term for this still place) is actually just what is happening in the Now. But the fact that we can step back and observe what is happening is evidence that we are NOT that – not our thoughts, senses, emotions. So if we can tap into that deeper place…well, that’s where the stillness happens. And having just caught glimpses of what happens there, it’s where I definitely want to keep working towards 🙂

    • screaser@gmail.com says:

      Awesome thoughts Jenn! It’s definitely a challenge for me so far, but feels completely worth it. I feel like I’m getting closer to being centered, and have noticed more “tiny moments of joy” by being present.

      Thanks for sharing Stillness Speaks — will definitely check that out! Would love to hear more about your experiences with awareness as we go along.