Me, Myself and I.
As a traveling soccer coach, we stay with host families. Remarkable people who are willing to open their homes to a complete and utter stranger. They feed us, entertain us, take us to do things and really immerse us in American culture. There is no form of reimbursement and they only ask a few things of us. Firstly, don’t lose or kill their child. Then let them learn about you and your culture. It’s that simple. No strings attached. Pretty sweet deal, right?
Sometimes the questions you get are pretty odd; ‘Do you get Black people in England?’, ‘What Language do you speak over there?’, ‘What size shoe does the Queen wear?’. Okay, they weren’t from families. They’re genuine questions from a gas station attendant somewhere outside Houston. And none of the answers were sarcastic…honest. Living with families though you can expect a little bit of a grilling. Not in a ‘Why should I let you date my daughter?’ way. But more in a way of people trying to learn about something that is completely alien to them. Some coaches thrive on this and love it, whereas others want to hide in their bedrooms and wait for camp to be over. Each to their own.
Personally, I enjoy the questions. I’ve got a few set answers and jokes that run like a stand-up comedy routine. I get questions daily about what I want to do with my life (The answer to which is still very much eluding me), where I’ve been, where I’m going, who I’ve met. The list goes on and on. I love teaching and by answering the questions I feel that someone is learning from me. Plus if they’re willing to feed a 6’5, 230lbs guy for a week then it’s the least I can do. That’s no small feat in itself.
Most of all though – I like the questions because they make me reflect. And I think reflection is a lost art.
Reflection to me is being able to watch your life like a movie. You can pause it and look at yourself right now. You can then rewind it and check the events leading up to it. The beauty of this movie is you have a say in how the following scenes unfold as well. You can’t control or predict the future, but you can have a say about the direction the story line takes. No two movies are the same, and you never have to worry about copyright infringement either.
The ability to sit back, close your eyes and think about yourself for a while is very important. As much as we should give time to helping others, time with you is just as valuable. Most of us live a hectic life, jumping from one thing to the next with very little thought in between. Downtime for most of us involves being around other people or tuning the world completely with the television. People rarely take a step back and look at themselves objectively.
If you were able to take a look at your life right now, how would it play out? Would it be a brilliant Spielbergian (Yeah, I think I just made that up) affair with drama, excitement and heated love scenes? Or would it look more like you were checking CCTV tape of the office to see who stole your last M&M’s snack pack? Would you see decisions that you were happy about, sad about, or just things that you’d downright want to change? If you could make it happen, how would the next scene look? Would you take the left or right fork in the road?
There is no right or wrong way for it to play out. Just the way that pertains to your life. It is only right or wrong as it’s seen through your eyes and relates to your goals and happiness.
A lot is said about forgetting the past and focusing on the future. And to some extent I think it’s right. Some things just need writing off as done, and you plough forward with your life. But, life is a process. Everything is a process. We start from A and end up at B. Sometimes via various other points, but we still move in the linear. Sometimes, we need to acknowledge where we’ve been, to figure out where we want to go. The mistakes we’ve made, the positive movements, the happiness, the sadness and the everything in between all took us to where we are right now.
Give yourself some time, even if it’s just 10 minutes a week. Maybe even 5 if you have a really hectic schedule. Find a place where you are really comfortable. That one place where you can just be you. Living room, Poolside, Bedroom, Starbucks or take a quick getaway to a Caribbean island. Then take a look at where you are, and where it positions you for where you want to be. Emotionally, professionally or physically. Whichever fits for you right now. Take stock of your answers and feelings. Then next week you can review them again and see if you’ve progressed, regressed or changed focus all together.
Time with yourself is very important. Enjoy it whilst you can.