In the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death, I stumbled across a fantastic blog authored by the (now former) actress that played the great comedian’s eldest daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire. Yeah, the one with the long hair. Whatever happened to her? Well, Lisa Jakub came to the realization that she did not want to spend her life as an actress. She wanted more. So she left the glamour of Hollywood and moved to Virginia, where she now lives with her husband, her dog, and a quest to find deeper meaning in life.
I mention Lisa because over the past few days, I have been voraciously devouring her blog. As I may have mentioned a time or two… thousand… I struggle with a sense of fulfillment in my life. I am constantly reminding myself that my life is good, that I have everything I have always wanted for myself, and I need to take the time to step back and enjoy it more rather than worrying about everything I could be missing out on. I’m going to miss out on this – the great things happening to me right now – if I don’t.
So, Lisa’s own quest to find fulfillment in her life kinda resonated with me. And while scouring through her blog the other night, I came across an article she had written some time ago on finding peace in stillness. The article details her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, both made even more severe when she “retired from acting” because while she knew she was done with life in front of the camera, she had no idea what she wanted to do next. A therapist recommended meditation, and Lisa has been a devoted practitioner ever since.
I wouldn’t rule out meditation, but there was a phrase in Lisa’s article that settled around me like a thick soothing blanket. Finding peace in the stillness. She mentions that phrase in the context of meditation, and also in her dawning awareness that spending quiet time – time by yourself in a peaceful place where you do absolutely nothing but sit – is a perfectly legitimate way to spend some of your time.
And I know that quiet time – that peaceful doing nothing time – is something I struggle with. My brain ricochets around in my head like a racquetball, and I have the worst time just sitting still and being quiet. I always feel like I’m “wasting time” when I do that. Heck, I even have a hard time sitting through an entire TV show anymore… unless its The Walking Dead or The Strain. I’m so hooked on those.
Beside the point.
Anyway, I also have the worst time, as you can imagine, enjoying what I’m doing right now. I am always thinking about finishing the task / project / activity at hand and moving on to the next. That’s anxiety, I suppose. It’s also really annoying.
I mean, no wonder I have to remind myself to feel fulfilled. If I am always thinking about what’s next, what’s next, what’s next… how can I take pleasure in the life right in front of me? The life I am living right now?
But today, I felt it. I sat still for a few moments. I relaxed on the train with my cup of coffee, and I was still. And I felt it. Peace. Happiness. Fulfillment. It only lasted for a few minutes. But it was there. It was the first time, in a long time, I haven’t had to remind myself to feel those things. And remembering it now, as I write this, I feel it again. That soft, thick, soothing blanket of the quiet.
Cue the ocean waves…