The other day, I was sitting around with some Friends and got to thinking about “centers”–as in finding your center; getting centered, centering yourself, etc. It struck me that I wasn’t entirely sure if we find or make our centers.
It’s really a question of a gap that is all too common in my daily life–a gap between what I’d like to be the source of my actions and the place from which most of my actions seem to come.
For today, then, I tried to be as aware of my actions as possible–to catch myself in the act, so to speak, and then trace backwards to the source of those actions. Too be honest, it was a busy day, and for the vast majority of my time at work, I was pretty much on auto-pilot. But when I did manage to pay attention to “where I was coming from” (wow, don’t I sound like a hippie), what I discovered was a lot of shifting ground–a range of emotions, drives, and beliefs motivating me to act in certain ways–and perceive the world in certain ways as well.
Which led me to wonder: do I have one center or many?
To some extent “finding my center” feels more like planting a flag than uncovering a source. What I mean is: if from moment to moment my center is a moving target, perhaps the key to “centering” is a matter of being willing to make myself just a little less complicated.
Let’s take my old pal resentment. Sure, everyone gets resentful, but there are days in which most of my actions seem to radiate from a place of resentment. Noticing this means I can now ask myself:
Do I want resentment to be my center?
There may be days when my actions answer for me–why yes, I think I will “come from” resentment for the rest of the day, thank you very much. And I suspect there will be days as well in which the question may be enough to shift my focus. The same is true of other emotions that tend to become a center of gravity for my thoughts and actions on any given day–anger, insecurity, arrogance, and so on.
So if it is possible for me to pull up stakes from any one of these sites that is acting as my center, then the next question is: can I choose some other source as my center? Can I choose “patience” or “peace” or even “simplicity” as a source for my actions?
Ironically, it seems a lot easier to be a “complicated” person, bouncing from one center of emotional gravity to another–than to embrace a more simplified version of myself–not a narrowed range of emotions that I would allow myself to experience, but rather a conscious attempt to limit the degree to which any one of these ultimately fleeting thoughts and feelings can become the source of my outlook on the day.
So today was another observational day. I’m not sure how much I did today, but perhaps to some degree I helped focus myself on the possibility of choosing a more stable center to my actions.