It Trivializes Real Moments—Constantly pinning potential moments increases expectations of other people and ourselves. He spent multiple paychecks on that ring and you can’t shake the fact that it wasn’t the blue box from the pin. Of course, you don’t mention it (I hope), but the moment is subtly tainted. You spend hours baking a cake for your daughter’s birthday, but, in comparison to the 60 cake pins, your version is, well, fine. There’s a subtle disappointment that it wasn’t more…grand. So many people have the perfect Pinterest life but admit that they live in a constant state of disappointment—this is it?
Where’s the joy in the small victory? We’re so busy trying to construct this moment that we miss the beautiful opportunity right before our eyes. Did you even notice her giggle when she saw the ladybug cake?
It Objectifies People—The people in your life become props for looking, being or reacting a certain way—and not only women. The big reveal on your wedding day and all you can think about is the fact that the love of your life is turned the wrong way for the camera to capture that shine in his eyes when he sees you. People become placeholders for slots in your ideal life. Your baby is a prop for those gorgeous pictures you want to reinvent for the world of social media. You become a mannequin for the clothing that looked so good on someone else.
It Creates Overwhelm—It’s so much easier to pin an idea than to execute it. Pinterest becomes an infinite and unachievable to do list.
It’s an Easy Way to Avoid Reality—Is your house a dump? Go on Pinterest and pin some beautifully organized kitchens. Glass canisters of quinoa and almond flour line the shelves. Perfectly stocked pantry and baker’s rack to die for. That’s better. Now you can go back to surfing Netflix.
It’s Not Visceral—How can you feel the moment deeply in your heart—in the depths of your soul—if you’ve primed yourself to only replicate the visual? Even if your dinner party looks exactly like the compilation of pictures you’ve pinned, you’re looking at it (and feeling it and tasting it) through your senses. Are you enjoying your guests or is there (again) a subtle disconnect? Do you feel like you’re watching your life from the outside, judging it as you try to live it?
In the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says, “Identifying with your mind…creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be.” Allow your moments to be by experiencing them viscerally with your feelings, not visually with your mind.
How can you feel the butterflies when you’re busy observing the scene through a visual lens?
Stop pinning and start living. Life, my friend, is all about the butterflies.
Love is the point.
Love for self. Love for others. Love for God. Love for the Universe. Love for children. Love for ideas. Love for the process. Love for the result. Love for tantric sex. Love for numbers. Love for words. Love for money. Love for service. Love for dreams. Love for concrete, tangible reality. Hell, even love for power and fame and control.
It’s the point. All there is. All there ever has been.
I hate building habits. Actually, I take that back. I love building habits; I just hate sticking to them. I’m not a trained monkey, nor any subject of Pavlov’s. I will not run your daily drills, thank you very much. Yes, I realize that I’m talking to myself at this point, but I’ve got to face the facts: I enjoy obeying other people’s edicts (including those concocted by my well-meaning past self) about as much as I imagine I would enjoy a root canal, which is not much.
You know what I do love? Gifts. Gifts are awesome. So when I want to do something daily, I turn it into a gift in the form of a gorgeous ritual.
Semantics, you say? I don’t this so. Let’s take a look.
Getting out of bed at 5:30 in the morning is a habit to which many aspire, myself included. Problem is: this is a habit that is damn near impossible to instill if you know that you don’t have to get up until 6:18 to make it to work in the nick of time. Building this in as a habit, like I said: bad.
Imagine, however, that we take 5:30 off the table. That habit makes me sigh.
Instead, we build a ritual. I know that I’m very motivated by beauty and order. Knowing this about myself, I decide to have a morning cappuccino—down to the foam and cocoa powder sprinkled on top—every morning at my table with my agenda and perhaps a little writing. Now, in order to indulge myself, I know that I must get out of bed just a little earlier. In order to bask in the beauty of that frothy foam, I must get up before 6:18. But, and this is the clincher, I want to get up. I’m pulled to my kitchen to froth a little almond milk, to glide the perfect felt tip pen over the pages of my gorgeous agenda.
Leave the habits and bells for the dogs. I’ll take the visceral pleasure of a ritual any day, preferably with cocoa powder sprinkled on top.
If you knew—without the shadow of a doubt—that you would eventually fulfill your dream of becoming a travel writer (or an actor, or a foster parent), how would you prepare? If you knew that you were going to be called to be a pastor (or a teacher, or a speaker), what would you do differently right now? If you knew with certainty that you were going to meet your soulmate in exactly one month from now, how would you change today?
Would you brush up on your Spanish, delve into your morning devotionals more fervently, join Toastmasters? In order to be ready for that inevitable opportunity, would you rebalance your ratio of carrot sticks to Cheetos? Volunteer at the local animal shelter? What would you do?
Your future is on its way.
It used to be that physical nakedness was a sign of trust. A lady revealed the soft skin of her calf in a show of intimacy. Of course, fast forward to today and the skin parade leaves little to the imagination.
Instead, our inability to be naked reveals itself in the form of layers of emotional clothing topped by a parka…and a good scarf and hat to boot. I will reveal my body, my life story, my Instagram story in exchange for your tacit acceptance of my silence regarding anything that really matters. My dreams, my hopes, my vulnerabilities? Even among trusted friends, we often hold a little something back, keep on a layer or two just to be safe.
It’s time to start a new trend. Start removing a layer here and there. Show some skin. No need for a full frontal. Yet.
But maybe show a little ankle?
Does the idea…
…make your heart race?
…encourage meaningful change?
…put a light in your eyes?
…keep you up at night with ideation?
…connect you with people you love/admire?
…force you out of your comfort zone?
If none of these apply, is it really an idea worth having?
So when you wake up in the morning without a shred of faith in your dream, don’t mope about it.
Just make a different choice.
Often when we think about making sweeping changes to our lives, we hesitate. Ego rears its ugly head again insisting that we are just fine the way we are right now, thank you very much. Changing our beliefs, our habits, our relationships, or our characteristics is an affront to the story of our past.
Better therefore to look at change as your own personal character arc. You’re not changing that aspect of yourself. You’re finishing it, completing it. Yesterday’s you was essential to the beauty and vitality of the chapter that you are expressing today. Being arrogant in the past was necessary to the character arc that is completed when humility is achieved. Being a wallflower in the past was necessary to the power of the character arc that is realized when you walk out on that dance floor. Reframing the change as completion of the arc–as opposed to a criticism of your past self–allows your fragile ego to embrace the change as part of its story.
There’s a time for massive action, the leap off the cliff into the mist, but small steps can be just as important. Feel out the edges of your comfort zone and push–just a little.
Of course, while you’re tiptoeing the edge, you might as well keep an eye out for opportunities to jump.
Not all human expression is art, sure. But it all can be. The hair’s breadth between a single line on a canvas and awe-inspiring art? The period. The act of finishing an expression and sharing it with the world.
But done. For now.
This is what I have to give for now, world. And this is enough.