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Are You Awake….or Are You Just Existing?

Whilst listening to the radio the other day, there was a short interview with a member of the clergy who was talking about Spring. He explained how he felt miserable and listless during the dark and grey winter months and how all of a sudden the earth just seems to wake up in spring, with a sudden burst of snowdrops and bluebells and fresh new leaves growing on the trees and bushes. He went on to say that he loved his garden but looked at all of the weeds and grass that were suddenly growing and immediately thought about all of the back breaking work that would be involved in nurturing it and making it look nice again.

As I listened, I could identify with what he was saying, I too have a garden that, at times takes a lot of time and energy and I too can feel that it is more of an arduous task than an enjoyable piece of me time. That said, the hours and days worth of enjoyment I get from the finished article far outweighs the few hours of hard work in getting it there.

What struck a chord with me the most was what he had said about the earth waking up and coming to life after laying dormant for a long time. I thought “I know people like that”. They are people that just seem to go about their daily tasks, doing the same things day in and day out and they don’t seem too happy about it. They look dormant. It seems that their emotions and dreams are stuck in an indefinite period of hibernation and they are just ‘there’, existing.

The difference between these people and the earth is that the earth is controlled by the sun and the moon and the period of hibernation will always come to an end at when it is right to do so. The people that are just existing are remaining this way out of choice and they will stay this way until only they choose to end it.

What makes people this way in the first instance? There are a few reasons as to why this is. It may be a control issue, with them believing it is better to keep what little they have because they have full control over it; when to do it, how to do it and to what degree. The fact that they are not truly happy with it is not an incentive for them to do something differently. Another reason could be fear. Fear of the unknown, because the simple fact is that if they don’t do what they have always done then it will be new and alien to them, and that can cause anxiety that can grow to extraordinary levels. The other reason could be that their way of life has simply become a habit to them, and habits are an unconscious act. They can be run and carried out without thinking about them which, by its nature brings comfort and certainty with it.

This brings me nicely on to answer the question as to why anyone would want to stay living like this indefinitely. For the majority of us, we need a little bit of excitement in our lives to break up our routine. Most of us need a certain amount of routine but too much of it leads to boredom, frustration and even depression, so we go out and look at what we can do that is different and exciting. We break up our routines in many different ways; with hobbies, socialising, extreme sports, taking holidays, shopping and even in far more negative ways such as shoplifting, physically assaulting someone and having affairs. Yet for others, doing anything like this would take them right outside of their comfort zone, and that, for them is too much and too risky.

The truth is that we all have our own internal gardens to nurture and nourish so that we continue to live and grow. Yes it may take energy and strength and it may seem at first to be too great a task to carry out. Rather than focus on the short term rewards of staying inside your safe area of your comfort zone look at the long term rewards of what you will gain instead. As Wong Jia Jun once said: “You need to learn unlearn, in order to learn more.”

So the question is: are you awake?

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