The first day of a new month can represent another opportunity to dig in and accomplish something. We might feel a twinge of energy when we turn the page of the calendar. That’s one reason why I still prefer a paper calendar that hangs on a wall–preferably a large calendar with a beautiful photograph for each month.
This first day of September is a reawakening to the finite nature of life–the only life we are certain about. We have another collection of 30 days to live. Can we positively exploit the next 30 days by rekindling interest in something meaningful that we take for granted? We blink our eyes and survey our surroundings. We take note of opportunities all around. We feel a little extra “zing” when we mindfully do this.
I remember a guru’s teaching about enthusiasm in life. When the guitar string is loose, its sound is dull and nearly nonexistent. When the string is too taut, its sound is too sharp and unpleasant. When the guitar string is carefully tuned, its sound is harmonious and pleasing. I love this analogy because it’s so easy to visualize.
Last night, I felt some unease due to consuming too many carbs and reacting to political stuff on Facebook. I needed a shift in emotions before bed. I decided to sit in front of my shrine for a few minutes in order to let go. I rarely do formal meditation before bedtime because meditation generally bumps up my awareness and alertness. I decided to disregard the possibility of higher alertness and just take ten-minutes as an experiment.
Interestingly, the meditation lasted a few seconds longer than ten-minutes without relying on a timer or prompts. I felt more alert, but the uneasiness from the carbs and social media was gone. After climbing into bed, it took longer to drift into sleep because of the enthusiasm, but I didn’t mind. Eventually, sleep came naturally; maybe because I was enthused about sleep. I suppose my mental guitar string had been carefully tuned by the short meditation. I’ll have to experiment further.
“Enthusiasm is not the same as just being excited. One gets excited about going on a roller coaster. One becomes enthusiastic about creating and building a roller coaster.”–entrepreneur Bo Bennett
I like Bennett’s quote because it really brings out the nuances in tuning the mind’s inner guitar string. It’s easy and reflexive to get excited about an idea or a project, but the excitement can soon wear off and the project doesn’t get started. Meantime enthusiasm connects creativity with inspiration and motivation. Enthusiasm cannot be faked. Phony enthusiasm is just the intent to deceive oneself. Deception is not inspiring. Enthusiasm is authentic and empowering.
When carefully harnessed and cultivated, enthusiasm provides determination and drive. The presence of curiosity, challenges, and the promise of new experiences keeps enthusiasm alive throughout one’s lifespan. Judging by the few centenarians I’ve had the privilege to have known, they all had an unmistakable spark of enthusiasm for learning new things. It seems that the centenarians retained their joie de vivre regardless of circumstances.
I hope we all can enjoy a creative, happy September.