Thursday, April 30, 2009

GO-ing small

"The little things? The little moments?" once queried Buddhist writer John Kabat-Zinn.

"They're not little," he answered himself.

In fact, for some of us, they're damn near everything.

For about a third of the year, working at least one day per weekend and several nights a week is the norm for me. That's because I've crafted my life to be driven by a sort of migration pattern: I work hard in the Fall, Winter and Spring, and the Summers I keep for me.

This doesn't mean I don't "work" in the Summer -- it just means I work at what I want. I work on creative writing, I do personal research, I explore things and places and activities, and I work on my other personal business ventures. I let my spirit go places the places it craves.

And I get out: In the Summers, my family and I venture forth on many long and short trips, both nearby and faraway -- including epics over the past several years that have included long, extended trips to Europe, Norway, Northwestern Canada, Alaska, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

And that philosophy is something my wife and I have endeavored to pass onto our kids: GO!

Because to me, GOing is what it's all about. And so you should carefully strategize your life to maximize your ability and opportunities to GO!

Like any good migration pattern, though, the yang requires some yin. So my yin is in -- meaning, indoors, a lot, for a big chunk of the year. So, in the non-Summer months, I give myself over to closer-to-home ventures: teaching, free-lance writing, running a karate club, and managing the other little businesses I've got going to help forge this piecemeal occupational existence I attempt to live off. And it damn near fills my days -- and nights, and weekends.

But that doesn't mean I don't still hanker to GO. It's just that that GOing has be sneaker and closer-to-home than in the big open of Summer.

So in these seasons of long days and nights hammering away at business busy-ness, I feed the need in me to GO! with lots of little snacks rather than the big fun feasts of Summer venturing.

This observation was driven home to me the other day when my son gave me a hard time for working on a weekend day. His intentions, I like to think, were noble: to return to me the favor of raising him to appreciate getting out a lot by calling me on my staying in a lot.

That's when I took stock of all the little GOings I manage to squeeze into the days ostensibly passed with my nose to the proverbial grindstone: Short walks with the dog. Longer -- but still quick -- runs. Bursts of karate practice in the back yard. Grading or writing out in the sun on the deck. Commuting on foot to my various obligations. Doing errands in town on my cruiser. Soaks under the stars with my wife and kids in our hot tub. Meals taken out on our front porch. And then there's the nights once or twice a week spent sleeping out in the back yard ...

Little things, but deliberate things. Meaningful things. Brief but powerful things that put me into physically, tangibly, meaningfully into the world around me -- the traveling traveling at home, every day -- and all woven into the thick fabric of my packed-to-bursting days. Not big going-aways, but GOings nonetheless.

In these busy months I may not be able to go far, but GO! is still my philosophy, my mantra, war cry, my life purpose. So I still GO, even at home. GO at home. Or, as I've come call it for short, GOh!.

And I'm going to teach that to my kids, too -- Fall, Winter, and Spring. Go! And GOh! even more.

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This post also appears on InsideOutsideMag.com. Check it out!

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