I was tired that spring evening many years ago when I drove into the driveway. It had been a long day of meetings and then many hours of driving. I was coming home from a multiple day trip to northeast Iowa and very happy to finally get home.
As I pulled into the driveway, our 5 year old son came running up to the car with a piece of wood in his little hands.
“Look,” he exclaimed. “Isn’t it amazing?”
Holding a walnut limb my father-in-law had trimmed earlier in the day, he turned the piece of wood on end and showed me the purple core.
“Look Daddy. It’s heartwood.”
Excitement in the miracle of this discovery poured out of him. His unspoken questions were profound. “Do you see it too, Daddy? Do you believe that this is special?”
The dictionary defines heartwood as “the older, central portion of the wood that is darker, denser, less permeable and more durable than the surroundings”
I believe we have lost touch with the heartwood in our lives. I believe we have lost touch with our hearts. I believe we have lost touch with the miracle of being fully present to the moment.
Anne Lamott in her most recent book says there are three essential prayers, namely Help, Thanks, and Wow. I believe we have lost touch with the miracle of now because we have lost touch with the miracle of Wow. This is the miracle that takes place when we live fully into each and every day, the miracle of feeling whole rather than scattered, the miracle of taking risks to care about what we are doing each and every day.
After working with numerous groups and individuals this year, I have observed following.
First, more and more people are living their lives at the speed of software and believing that there is an app for everything. However, this does not generate more time or more space for clarity or for the important things in their lives.
Second, we are a society clearly driven by the undisciplined pursuit of more, using a term of Jim Collin’s in his book, How The Mighty Fall. We desire more time, more intensity, more possessions, more of everything. Yet, I find in this world of faster broad band, phones, iPads, and lap tops that people are not more happy, more clear or more balanced. They are just moving faster and feel more busy. Weekends are just as packed as week days. There is no day of rest unless we get sick, and most people don’t rest even when they are sick.
Third, people are obsessively and compulsively packing more into each day and expecting more joy, more delight and more overwhelmingly good times. Yet privately they tell me in executive coaching sessions that they are exhausted, bone tired and worn to the core. There is no free time, down time or just off time. We are not managing time any more. Instead, we are managing the expectations of others or of ourselves, and then feeling most of the time like we are not measuring up to those expectations. We are always on task and hoping to keep up with the calendar, the list and the expectations.
Fourth, I believe we have loss touch with what it means to live a life that it is balanced, clear, happy, and healthy. In particular, we have lost the body memory of what this feels like to be rested, what athletes call it “the muscle memory.” We have loss touch with ourselves and with role models of people who live a clear, balanced and healthy life. I believe we have loss touch with what makes us happy.
The result of this way of living is that two great diseases are destroying our families, our companies, and our communities. The first is time sickness, a term coined by American doctor Larry Dossey, and the later is general indifference. The former causes us to constantly ask “What time is it?”, and the later results in the response “Whatever.”
The above are challenging observations, but it is time for each of us to rediscover the miracle of wow that happens in each day of our lives. Then, we will reconnect with our heartwood, and this will make a major difference in our lives and our world.