I spent some time yesterday thinking about awareness and what it brings. There are different places that awareness appears in our lives and how it affects us. I wrote before, but have considered even deeper how we are the most critical of the things in others that we are critical of in ourselves. It takes awareness that you’re being critical to be able to shine the spotlight on why it exists and let you become mindful of it. I love the idea of mindfulness but it can’t exist without awareness. Similarly, awareness is a powerful piece of information that has tremendous potential but if you never become mindful of the things you’re aware of then it may be little more than a daydream. The key to change in yourself and the world is to become aware, then become mindful of that awareness. There is a third component here, I’m only just becoming aware of the connection between these two so I’ll have to ponder more what that component of change or action is… allowing that maybe it’s just Will.
Yesterday, when pondering awareness, it was under the guise that “change can be invisible” and that we sometimes shift without really noticing. The anecdote that sparked it was as recent as the past few days, and here it is:
Over the weekend, my family participated in preparing and staffing a float for our local beekeeper’s association to present at the parade opening the county fair. My son, creative and hilarious, wanted me to be a flower so he could be dressed as a bee and smack me with a honey wand to pollinate me. He was excited about this, but we didn’t find a way to make that costume happen. However, one of the beekeepers had a box full of various costume parts and on Saturday pulled out a bee costume with a cap. This didn’t and doesn’t seem that odd to me and when he handed it to me as an option, I put it on and really didn’t think any more of it. I was with my family, we were having fun, the spirit of the event supported the idea of me in a bee costume. Well since then, as the pictures my wife shared with the world surfaced, family and friends (even one of the beekeepers) commented, asking “how she made me do it” or “they’re happy to see a man confident in his masculinity” and for some reason I was completely unaware there was anything remarkable about my costume wearing. I still find it unremarkable, but see this as a mindfulness and self-awareness shift in behavior.
In the last year, as I’ve become much more mindful of myself, others and myself-and-others. This is to say, I’m increasingly aware that the way I feel and react is all within myself, regardless of other’s opinions about me. When it came time to wear a costume, I was thinking first of my son who wanted me to wear a costume. Alternatively, as my mindfulness about myself has shifted, I realize that the way others see me is less important than the way I see myself. This all feels like common sense, or maybe it’s age talking, but it was a fresh perspective for me. I have changed, to some degree, in the last year (and every year really) because that’s just what happens, we get new information, we get different priorities and we change.
So, bringing this back to awareness, my thoughts yesterday were about change but I woke up this morning thinking about awareness and how that drives change and how that empowers us to make decisions or choices. Every thing you become aware of has the potential to be a thing you can make a choice about. If you’re aware of your critical behavior, you can change it. If you’re aware of how eating junk food makes you feel, you can change it. Awareness by itself is already a great thing, it lets you speak out on injustice, it lets you react to others feelings and needs. Mindfulness by itself, also amazing… and non-existent if you’re not aware in the first place. These two together are what leave you poised for change so the next step is translating it to action