I found a new podcast, 70 Over 70. I listened to Barney Frank the other day. I loved the saying that he wanted on his epitaph “The Gentleman’s Time Has Expired.”
I listened to Judith Light’s interview after Mr. Frank’s. I recalled her from one of the 80’s sitcoms I watched but I can’t recall which one it was. The description of her interview was what enticed me: “Be. Do. Have.” Anymore, any type of spiritual, philosophical title captures me.
I listened to the interview while walking Rocco in Tarpy early in the morning when there was no one else in the woods with me. Tiny snowflakes blew through the air and a dusting of snow laid on the path up the hill to the clearing where Rocco runs free enjoying all the scents amidst him. The interviewer started the podcast telling Judith Light that he has two kids, and is constantly worried about messing them up; seeing them at age 18 chatting with friends about how f’d up they are because of something he did to them that he did not even realize they absorbed. Light reacts by stating “You will fuck them up, that is the human condition!” But she consoles the interviewer telling him it is ok because life is messy and he is trying his best. You just need to be in the present, and not throw your energy in worry about the future. It helps to look at your kids as beings that have come into your life to enable you to learn just as much as you are enabling them to learn.
She then discussed starting her career thinking that she had done everything right to get her to a place where she would be offered feature films and broadway plays – not sitcoms. She was above those. She had done, done, done, going to acting school and Carnegie Mellon and getting her degree. She deserved the best and wanted it now! But that was a skewed outlook.
She needed to figure out who she wanted to be and then the doing would come from that framework. She asked herself “how am I going to be today – not what I will do.” We tend to think if we do enough stuff, read enough books, then we will have or be something more. But that is not true. You need to start from your being. Breathe. Be with you first. If you “be” first, you will have a different framework. Be curious and embrace the mess. Be grateful for another day. Make friends with the not knowing. Be conscious and aware that you are choosing to be. The getting and wanting will come – but it will come from a different place. It’s the “be-do-have” mindset- not the “do-have-be” mindset.
I loved that. I thought of the scores of podcasts and books I have tried out over the year with the hope that in doing this work, I would learn to be. But no matter how many experts I listened to and how many words I read, I still didn’t feel like I was getting what I needed. After listening to the interview, it hit me that maybe I am “doing” too much, and just need to ask myself “how am I going to be today?”
So I did.
On Sunday, I made a conscious choice to “be” a present mom, an engaged wife, supportive of others. Making that choice of “Being” naturally brought on the doing. I made Mario a hearty breakfast before he went snowboarding. I folded the laundry. I bought groceries to make dinners through the week. I listened to Maria talk to me about Model UN. I gave praise to Jon for his delicious pork chops. I read my book, and called my mom. I cleaned the kitchen floor. I loved, and comforted, and helped, and listened, and fed. It felt good, and soul-satisfying. And I promised myself at the end of the evening that I would wake up the next morning and continue to be conscious of “being.”
Of course, the next day was Monday so all that conscious desire was squashed by Monday work and school madness. Actually, not true. My girlfriend called while I was getting ready to walk and read my book, and she needed someone to talk to about her dad. He had received a concerning diagnosis. I put down my book and talked with her. I comforted her. I think she felt better after our conversation. I made Mario a pb&j before basketball. I picked up Ri’s room since she had a huge exam to study for and was at school from 7 am to 7 pm. I snuggled with Rocco on the family room floor while stretching out my back. “Be, Have, Do.”