By Scott Westerman
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“By fixating on the end product, I’d gone blind to the beauty of becoming” ~ Beth Kephart
It was a proud moment… watching my friend Leigh Graves Wolf defend her dissertation. That’s the last hurdle you clear before you earn your doctorate. Her passions parallel mine: technology, teaching and watching people discover and achieve their potential. Her presentation was relaxed, smooth and confident. There was an air of fun floating around the room. Her committee, the PHds who helped guide her to this point, sat with cheshire cat smiles. Not because she was nailing her last final exam. But because they knew the adventures she had along the way.
Colleen and I felt the same sensation earlier this summer when we had the honor of witnessing the marriage of two young people we know well. The joy of that moment was made that much richer because we had watched their love grow and mature through the highs and lows that are the inevitable elements of every meaningful relationship.
Like Leigh’s PHd., marriage is a recognition of something that already exists.
The river of life is most richly enjoyed when seen in full relief and context. The rapids, the shallows, the jagged rocks and the fish swimming around your feet. All of these elements mix to create the Technicolor mural which defines a life.
People who only look at the finished product miss the best part. They haven’t seen the paint selection, the brush strokes and the sections that were painted over and over again until repeated practice and discovery made an imperfect, yet deeply meaningful work of art.
These are the joys in which the people who practice mindfulness revel. Washing the dishes can have the power of a walk through Yosemite at sunset. If you allow yourself to feel the water cascading over your fingers. If you can focus your senses on the marvelous micro movements of each muscle and their coordination with sight, sound and smell, sponging dinner’s remnants from a dirty plate can have as much significance as a well performed Mozart piano concerto.
I could identify with the pleasure Leigh’s dissertation committee felt that day, just as I could fully feel the love that our newly married friends felt for each other as they exchanged their vows, oblivious to everything except one another.
In both cases, I had witnessed their art of becoming. And that made the moment of recognition exponentially more powerful.
What are you doing right now? What is happening around you, inside of you as you consider this message? If you quiet the cacophony of thoughts that constantly fight for your attention, what does this moment feel like?
One of my mentors once told me to, “Think things through. And then put those thoughts away and focus totally on the now. Your subconscious mind will do the homework and you won’t miss the treasures that live in the moment.”
Great accomplishment is the sum of thousands of moments and the lessons that come with them. This is the art of becoming. As you pursue your dreams, don’t forget to enjoy the trip. The treasure isn’t at the end of the rainbow. It’s what you experience along the way.