I'm sitting here on this Monday morning sipping coffee (confession time: I realized I didn't have my coffee with me so I ran and made some so that line wouldn't be a lie. Integrity ya'll! Lol). Yesterday I was in a restaurant doing my first solo paid-for workshop called Reframing and Verbiage. Four wonderful ladies signed up and spent 3 (actually 4) hours with me learning ways to identify mental, verbal and emotional pitfalls to our own health. We laughed, we shared and we talked as I gave them a few points that I personally find helpful. As they left I hugged each one, thanked them for taking time to join my workshop and then I reminded them, "Remember everything starts and ends with you!" What a phrase. Everything starts and ends with you? Even as I type that again I get goose bumps because it is one of the basic core truths of our lives. It is what I am thinking about this morning. It is what prompted today's blog. As I like to say, take a walk with me.
Last week I celebrated my friends birthday by taking her to Alki Beach here in Washington State. My friend loves the water, good conversation, good food and great sunrise or sunset. Going to Alki Beach was a perfect way to celebrate her day. Of course, this isn't about her day but more so a picture I captured as we traveled along the beach watching the setting sun over the mountains. Before I do that I must say she had a great day. OK, back on point, as we drove down the road to the edge of the beach we stopped again (had stopped a few times to enjoy the sun set at various places already) where a bench near a bus stop caught my eye. I got out of the car and had to capture what I was seeing. Cars roared by me kneeling on the side of the road. People walked by some watching the sky and others talking to each other or on their phones. Here I was in the street, in front of my friends car, knelt down snapping a picture that was speaking to my very spirit. I snapped several pictures of it from various angles. I would send a copy of it to several friends reminding them to slow down the world is an amazing place or something similar. And I knew I would use it in a blog or a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram post at some point. Looks like the blog won out this time. You probably want to see the picture after all that rambling.
When I saw this bench I pictured myself as an old man sitting alone on it. Not sad or anything just sitting taking time to watch the sky transform itself with every passing minute. I could see the years of life on my face. The stories both grand and harsh in the lines of my wrinkles. My grey hairs showing that life has indeed been lived for a many years. I could see me. I could see the old man Sean just enjoying the view. That made me smile as I snapped pictures of it. The idea of being able to sit alone and enjoy life. That is the gift many of us refuse to give ourselves. The gift of being able to sit alone. I should say or point out at least that I did not say I pictured myself lonely or sad. I pictured myself alone on this bench. We must learn to find peace in the solitude of our lives. We must learn to embrace those moments when our spouses, friends, kids, co-workers and whoever else we have around us is not around and we are, in fact, alone. Can you picture yourself on this bench?
The truth is most of us would rather be surrounded by people all the time. We find joy with friends and interactions. We live and learn to love, if not covet, the noise and chaos. It is refreshing to laugh with friends. It is love-cup filling to spend adventures with those you love or even those you just met. Like I said, I had spent that day celebrating my friends birthday when I took that picture. It was a great day of conversation, picture taking, great food and amazing sunset. My friend said it was a perfect birthday. I couldn't argue we had a great time that I was grateful to be a part of the celebration. There is nothing wrong with any of that I just mentioned. Adventures are definitely more exciting with kindred spirits. In fact, there was another picture I took during my trip to Alki that also spoke to me that represents this sentiment as well.
Many of us see life as this picture. We want to be surrounded by friends/loved ones and enjoy the simple life. I have no idea what these friends were celebrating or talking about but I know I stopped and smiled because they looked like they were having a great time. The picture would be amazing too if I could capture it which, luckily enough, I was able to do. They may have had the best day ever and that would be grand. I almost told them I took the picture and would send it to them but I chose to leave them to their merriment. That being said, this is what most of us want. I imagine a great deal of people reading right now could see themselves with a few friends (or family) enjoying this without much complaint. I could go on forever about simply living in this moment. I may have to take a trip and do it. However, this is about being alone. About the old me sitting and enjoying a bit of solitary solitude. Is that a redundant statement? Whichever it is lets get back on track.
The person who learns to enjoy the company within as he/she takes the long walks on his/her own will then be able to enjoy the walk with others. Could you do it? Could you sit for an hour just being with the chatter of your own mind? In there lies the what I, over many years of contemplation, have found is the true inner peace most of us look for in others companionship. The person in the mirror, the one in the same seat you are sitting, the one you do everything with 100 percent of the moments, days and years or your life from start to finish is the one you have to learn to sit with and enjoy. Find a bench to sit on and put the phone down, disconnect for a spell and just let your eyes, ears, minds, spirit and soul just be for a minute. It will be the best gift you can give yourself. It is the best gift I gave myself.
One of my favorite pictures to take are ones of docks or bridges. I can walk on dock on my own and just let the wind whisper to me, the water cleanse my thoughts and the sights give me inspiration of "what-ifs" that are out there. The bridge or dock often means someone is going somewhere. Where are the adventures they are going on. Where could I go? When I sit by myself I think of these things. The imagination walks in many directions and keeps my energy young. Look at these two pictures (below) and ask where would it take your mind? The first one
a favorite of mine because every time I walk it I become one with everything that is around me. Where would this one take you? Would you find yourself watching the water wondering what all the sea creatures are doing? Are we you see the cars on the roads going up and down, back and forth, in and out and wonder where the people are off to? Maybe you'll find faces and images in the clouds or sit simply enjoying the solitude if it all? For me I do it all depending on me. I think of conversations I have had or should have. I clear my mind of the chaos and enjoy the birds flying. I watch Seagulls and Eagles flying around, seals in the water and even boats, ships and ferries too. I allow myself to wonder where I would go if I was across the water at Bremerton Ferry Terminal catching a ferry out. There are no rules or limits to being able to sit alone just letting go. The options are endless which is why this picture is a favorite because it looks endless.
Picture number two is a shorter dock and it has a surprise visitor of one of the Washington State
Ferry. I sat at this short dock and pictured running down it and jumping on it. Guess I watched a few to many superhero movies or something. Yet, here I stood at the end of the dock and the ferry just slipped on buy. I pictured what would I do, where would I go and all the sorts. I enjoyed the wind and the sound of the waves. Even the shadows on the dock. Sitting alone allows me to let the mind go as if I was a child still full of wonder.
The question is, would you simply stop and enjoy a moment on your own? As I write I can imagine all the places one could do alone. Life is short. The world is hectic. People are chaotic. Dangers lives around the bend. Love is grand. And, most importantly, adventure is everywhere. The life we learn to love the most should be the one that we hold deep inside. With that I have one more picture to share.
When I sit alone and enjoy the world I often look at it like the picture I am going to share. I think many of us view life in this way. Some people rather live it. Some would rather see the beauty of life in the distance rather than in reality. There is a difference between sitting alone and being happy with self and being distant and not being involved in life at all. What do you see in this
picture? Would it speak to you? Would it speak to the quietness within you? This is the culmination of the journey from my bench picture. How many ways can we simply sit and enjoy our "OWN" life and being a part of the amazingness that is the world? That is the million dollar question.
I am lucky I have a great wife, great kids, great friends and as an author and motivational speaker a great little life. I don't want for support or search or need for the connection of people. What I have learned, and hope I conveyed in this blog, is that for balance I also know I need more. I needed to learn to sit alone. Now, as you can tell from the pictures, i have learned to sit alone a lot because to be a better person for others I need to be better for and with me. This is my story today. This is my vision today. This is why I am happy today because "luckily, I sit alone!"