(Part 4 of an ongoing crash course on mindfulness in your 20s. Click here for the last post.)
On my 25th birthday, I decided to buy myself a good story. I don't mean one of the Kindle Daily Deals, but a story that I would write myself... perhaps a little adventure. I spent quite some time Googling before double-checking my bank account and my morals. Then, I made up my mind. I decided to go skydiving. And I decided to go by myself. And then I decided to break the ultimate millennial crime: I wasn't going to tell social media.
About halfway to the skydiving center, my adrenaline calmed down, and I seriously began questioning my decision. However, before I could make a final call, I was already watching the training video in this makeshift classroom. I was handed a 10-page packet that required my signature in about 15 places. I literally signed my life away. On reflection, it's interesting how quickly I decided that the best way to celebrate 25 years of life was to hand them all over.
I then met my skydiving coach, and he told me to give my wallet, cell phone, and keys to whoever came with me. I hesitated before asking, "Where do I put that stuff if no one is with me?" He looked surprised and somewhat confused. Things got awkward for a brief moment. He then kindly put my stuff in his own locker in the back room. When he returned he said, "So, you don't have anyone to take pictures?" At this point, I felt embarrassed. No, I didn't have anyone to document this adventure. Did that suddenly make it less meaningful?
I went tandem skydiving, which means I did have someone attached to me when I jumped out of the plane at 12,000 feet. Well, actually, he jumped out of the plane, and I didn't have much of a choice at that point but to join him. I told him I was willing to pull the parachute cord instead of letting him do it. He told me that if I forgot, he would remember for me, which I thought was a fair agreement. We spent about 30 seconds in free fall before I pulled the parachute at 6,000 feet. During that 30 seconds, my mind cleared out faster than a Best Buy shelf on Black Friday. Once the parachute cord was pulled, we had a few minutes of coasting to the ground. Words can't describe the incredible feeling of weightlessness and mindlessness. I literally got a whole new view of the world. It's really tiny. And so are my problems.
Facebook never knew I went skydiving. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If you have an exciting experience and don't tell social media, did it really happen? Dude. Mind blown.
I refused to use energy on immediately explaining my story to the world. I needed that energy to appreciate the story so that I could reap the lessons from it.
I did get a pretty sweet certificate that says I went skydiving. I hung it up next to my college diploma. I know the two pieces of paper took varying levels of effort to earn, but they still got equal spots on my wall. After all, the college degree only took four years of work. The skydiving certificate took 25 years before I finally realized that my own approval was good enough.
It's interesting how addicted our generation is to making sure everyone else knows what we are doing. I love turning to social media to hear about acceptance letters, diplomas, engagements, and other positive life updates. However, I often read posts and think, "You're not looking for celebration. You're looking for confirmation." Sometimes I think we have reached the conclusion that life isn't fun enough until everyone knows we are having fun.
It's funny that we call them "selfies" because they are rarely for your self; they're for everyone else. Maybe taking a selfie should actually mean taking a deep breath and making sure your self is enjoying the moment.
Before you go posting about every detail of life, stop to ask yourself if you're looking for celebration or confirmation. Perhaps what I'm simply trying to say is: Enjoy your own view. Try to allow some moments in life happen without anyone else knowing or keeping just a few people in the loop. Take life in through your eyes and allow your approval to be good enough. And just think, it will save you both dignity and data.
At this point in your mindfulness practice, hopefully you're trying to spend some time each day in silence. Try to enjoy your own view while sitting. Just watch your thoughts and feelings come and go in your mind's eye. Don't attach yourself to any of the emotions. Take a new perspective by just being a bystander to your mind. When you remember something stressful that happened that day, just watch the situation come in and out. Remember that you don't have to be your thoughts. And as always, use your breath as a focus point.
Different view, different you.