People From Behind and Stepping Into the In-between

Often we have so many conflicting ideas and emotions, it can be hard to pin down a consistent thread underlying them all. A big part of you wants to settle while another half yearns to be a transient being, exploring and casting your feelers out wide. One half of you desires a stable, consistent routine, while the other half wants to relish in a carefree, spontaneous existence. One part of you wants to bake chocolate cake every night, the other part wants to go to the health store and buy the most natural probiotic pills on the market. Of course, the obvious conclusions to draw are that a) we are all full of contradictions and b) it is our job to find the balance and tow the middle line. Nothing is mutually exclusive. Many things can exist at the same time. Humans are walking conundrums. But in the moment when all of these desires come crashing down on us, these truths are far from comforting. Instead, they can feel like pithy daggers, indiscriminately cutting at our surface with their neat little points.

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We all wish to mold our lives into a cohesive story. To make sense of our chaotic minds that always seem to be jumping from one thought to the next. To find peace in our simmering confusion. And when we feel caught between opposing desires, the easiest answer is to ignore them.  To not deal with it, because to “deal with it” seems like such a fuzzy concept anyway. So we tell ourselves to carry on and hope things will sort themselves out. That with time, our path will become clear. —And sometimes it does. We talk to someone and they seem to be bestowing us with an answer from the almighty heavens. Other times, we are suddenly struck by a bolt of inspiration and clarity out of the blue and are able to resolve our two halves in one fowl swoop. But there are just as many times when this is not the case, when the two (or three or four..) sides keep presenting themselves, making it seemingly impossible to lead a content life. So what do we do in these cases? How do we reconcile our messy selves? How do we return to a simpler time when life didn’t seem to be pulling us in so many directions?

The phrase “keep your head down” are the only words that feel like an answer. Because, at the root of our discontentment, there lie the usual culprits; comparison and shame. You know the ones. They often sound like; “falling behind” or “I should be doing” or “not enough,” but no matter what form they take, the subtext is always, “what I have right now is not good enough.” Like a door-to-door salesman pulling out his snappy briefcase whilst weaving his seductive pitch; “But look! You could have this, this and this.” Staring at all the gleaming options, it’s hard not to be tempted. It’s hard not to be lured out of the happy bubble we sometimes manage to inhabit. It’s hard not to think, “yes, this is important, too.”

But when we are staring into the briefcase, the eager gentleman awaiting our response, it’s right here, in this moment, when we have a choice to make. And it’s a nasty, sneaky little bugger of a choice. Because it seems so glaringly simple, yet it’s the most difficult to execute. We have to snap that briefcase shut. We have to say, “uh-uh, not today.” We have to close the door, walk back to our desk and firmly push our heads down. We have to focus on what’s right before us.


Some call this gratitude, some call it grit. But what it feels like is power. The power to focus on what we have going for us. The power to exist in the between states, to step back from the tug-of-war game that often takes place in our brains. The power to say no to the poisonous transactions we make with ourselves. The ones that sell ourselves out for something that we think we want, but, in reality, don’t really need. It’s the power that moves us forward. The one that let’s us shut the door on the quibbling and become more active. The power to build the things that we can’t imagine ever having. The things we rule out as possible because we can never picture a more “together” version of us who could possibly accomplish such a feat.

It’s this power that sits beneath all of the conflicting voices, it’s this well-spring that we can crack into when we stop worrying about the superfluous periphery and root ourselves in what is important now. This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to the future or forgo goals or possibilities, it simply means that we say no thanks to the flashy salesmen who are luring us away from those wonderful things right before us and, instead, pay attention to those things within our grasp. Not a novel sentiment to be sure, but one that bears repeating, time and time again.

And it’s this sentiment, that can be aided through a quick plunge into what I’m now deeming meditation through pictures. By stepping outside of ourselves and into the wonder that strangers offer, we can clear our mind from some of these mental flurries. When we look at people from behind, we have nothing to latch onto but curiosity. A curiosity that allows us to think in that wonderful between space, the place where anything is possible and nothing holds more than its weight.

People From Behind_Amsterdam Roest

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1 Comment

  1. Eric February 13, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    There’s a place between stimulus and response. Something to ponder.


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