The Way You Do One Thing Is The Way You Do Everything
As I focused intently on encouraging a huge, iridescent bubble out from a handheld hoop dipped in washing up liquid, my friend Kim remarked,
“It’s said that the way we do one thing is the way we do every thing.”
What she meant is this:
If we can encapsulate an action or activity and look at our behaviour within it, we can learn important stuff about who we are and how we interact with the world. This action or activity could be anything from a group walk, to how we read a book or how we eat a meal.
Two years later (June just gone), Ads and I went on a little trip to France.
One evening we sat on a raised deck with some Slow Coaches.
Charlie set up a “slack line”. This simple strap was the width of a seat beat and made from similar material. It was strung between a tree and a post. The idea was that you started at one end and walked across it to the other end like a tight rope walker, yet none of us could take more than two steps before falling off.
It was surprisingly impossible.
And very addictive.
At least – I became addicted.
In fact, I was so addicted that when Adam snored (an unfortunate side effect of too much cheese, meat and wine) I didn’t lie there and flick his elbow and get frustrated.
Instead I got up in the early, early dawn hours and went to practice the slack line.
Yet still I could get no further than two steps.
It was very peaceful and beautiful being on the raised decking, on the top of a French mountain before anyone else seemed to have stirred.
After a few attempts on the slack line, I made a tea and wandered up and down the lane in my pyjamas.
The birds sang happily.
A dog barked in the distance.
Everything was soft as the cloudless sky …. yet I couldn’t relax because something was troubling me.
It was something that has troubled me ever since I proposed to Adam last Christmas.
You see, I wanted to honour our relationship and bless it and ceremonially link our arms around it.
But I did not want to be contracted to anyone, to be “owned”, to be tied, to be locked in by law or even use the word married. Having been married before and experienced in the all encompassing hell of a very-bad-divorce-that-was-painfully-strung-out, every cell in my being was recoiling at the idea of stepping into another marriage.
I’d only become aware of this resistance after proposing.
And it wasn’t easy to talk about to folk who were
a. happily married
b. going to get married
or c. inexperienced in the thinking/complexity of a Bethan
So instead I was letting it quietly trouble me whilst sipping tea and having yet another go on the strap line.
After a while Charlie came out with tea.
He sat next to me cross legged and we talked about pigeons.
Then we talked about the slack line and methods.
Then he had to have a few attempts to walk it because, I believe, he was perhaps a little addicted too.
I had a go.
I stood on the end of the strap line and focused intently on getting to the other side. I visualised reaching the tree. I powerfully, with laser focus intensity affirmed “I reach the end of the slack line”.
Took a jolting step.
Then Charlie suggested that we use a process that he has developed called the Bella Maria Process.
“Imagine that you are successfully walking across the Slack Line,” he said. “What are you doing?”
I paused for a moment, and thought.
“I am walking it, but I’m not actually walking. It’s like I’m playing. I am having a playful relationship of oneness with the slack line,” I declared, bemused by the answer that had come up.
“And who are you being?” asked Charlie.
“Accomplished. Successful. Fun loving. Playful. In love with the relationship I am having with the Slack Line.”
Yah. I know.
Clearly tight ropes are my type.
“And what have you got to lose each time you fall off?” Charlie asked me.
Suddenly I welled up.
My throat got all tight and I had to take some secret deep breathes.
“If I fall off …” I felt like I was choking. “… I’ll have to go back to the beginning again.”
Suddenly, I could see the link between my relationship fears and the way I was doing the slack line.
My greatest fear was that I would fall off and “fail” in the relationship and have to start again.
I’d also unconsciously decided that a “successful” relationship was one where you can go the whole “way” and get to the other end, ie. marrying someone and staying with them for the rest of your lives.
But, the truth is that nothing can last forever.
The reality of life is that at some point It/Life will come to an end.
We will ALL be forced to get off the slack line.
There wasn’t a way to avoid endings because endings are inevitable.
And then I got IT.
“The END isn’t the goal. Reaching the furthest point doesn’t matter,” I whispered to myself. “It’s the way we enjoy, play, interact and embrace the relationship we have with the slack line as we walk across.” I took a deep breath and could hear Kim’s words echoing around my mind. “The way we do one thing, is the way we do everything.”
As Charlie watched, I strolled across to the thorn tree to which we had attached the slack line.
Using one had to support me, I stepped up onto the strip.
This time it felt totally different.
I was indifferent to the end result.
I was in it only for the dance between myself, each footstep and the narrow line of support that held me suspended in the air. Falling off mattered not, because it was all part of the dance.
I was one with the game and the game was one with me.
I then walked half way across the slack line.
JUST LIKE THAT!
I returned from France with the Slack Line Wisdom planted firmly in my rucksack. One quick purchase later and I had my own slack line set up in the garden.
And as I practised walking the rope each day, I also practised applying the Slack Line Wisdom to all sorts of other things I was doing.
For example, if my main focus in relationships had been to reach the end successfully (at the cost of enjoying the beautiful process along the way) could this be applied to my writing, my creative projects, my business, my health, my family and my other relationships too?
As I began to see myself less as needing to reach the end successfully and more as someone engaged in a beautiful, funny, circus-like balancing act with the moment/project/person at hand …
… the more fun, enjoyable, light and vibrant life became.
So, what about me and Adam and the marriage thing?
Well, there is going to be no lawful contract of binding court-case threats.
Instead we’re going to go on a frolicking adventure to the mountaintops of Peru and whilst gasping at the views and immersing ourselves in rainforest waterfalls, will have a ceremony that celebrates, embraces, blesses and wraps the arms of the Universe around our partnership … and its going to be an expression of our walk/journey through life together.
So, what about you?
Do you fully understand how you do “one thing”?
Do you know the fears, beliefs, hopes and dreams that drive you as you set out to walk the rope of life each day?
Do you rush through your food, your parenting, your work, your workout, your novel or your relationships, preoccupied with the destination as opposed to the journey?
If the way you do one thing, is the way you do everything … how are you living your life?
If you want to explore that more, I would recommend those Slow Coach people.
Or a bubble blower.
Or getting a slack line.
Or even better, all three. xxx