I saw more signs and volunteers as I walked back through Hudson River Park after class.
My curiosity was piqued. I started to guess in my mind what this might be, and immediately thought of three possible options:
(a) a run where you drink Chardonnay during the run (i.e., instead of water)
(b) a run where you drink Chardonnay at the finish line
(c) a progressive term for what we used to call a “walk of shame”
I approached a volunteer to ask and got the answer.*
And then I stopped to reflect on this. Not so much on the answer he gave me, but on my three initial assumptions. I observed that the simple fact that these three thoughts were the first thoughts to pop into my mind tells me a lot about my internal blueprint, the culture and community in which I live, the influences on my life and my own experiences.
I’m not judging this. I am simply being in a space of awareness about it.
I noticed, for example, how the fact that the term “walk of shame” entered my consciousness speaks volumes about our culture. I’m leaving that one for another time.
I sat down for a moment to contemplate my thoughts and observe what they tell me about myself.
The simple act of stopping on my walk home, sitting down and contemplating this for a few minutes allowed me to create a space for myself in which I could observe my thoughts. In that space, I was able to get perspective. I realized that there are infinitely more possibilities of what this could be than the top 3 that initially came to mind. I got outside myself for a moment and thought,
“if I dropped someone here from another country, what would that person think?”
That opened the door for me to consider other possibilities of what this could be. Even knowing the answer, I was able to consider some new alternatives. And I was also able to appreciate that there might be possibilities I haven’t considered.
I started to write about it in my journal. And then I heard that voice. The one that said, “why are you spending so much time thinking about this silly run?”
On one hand: fair point. I have a lot on my agenda for today. Why stop and spend time thinking about this and writing about it in this moment? On the surface, it does appear to be something so trivial. Another distraction that pulls me away from my focus. Another waste of time.
And then I heard the other voice. The voice that reminded me that we don’t get to decide what time is wasted. The voice that said, loudly and with conviction:
This is not about the Chardonnay Run.
Oh, right. Cue the lightbulb over my head.
Over the past week I have repeatedly found myself making assumptions in reaction to something that somebody said or didn’t say. I have caught myself running old patterns. At times, I have been so in the grips of it that it was paralyzing. No amount of meditation or breathing or gratitude practice helped to loosen the vise. As much as I could see that I was in an old pattern, as much as I know I have the tools to change that pattern, I felt helpless to change it in those moments. Perhaps this is because I was emotionally invested in those situations. Every possibility ignited a different emotional response in me, and this made it impossible to release the grip of my pattern.
The Chardonnay Run appeared today to teach me this lesson in a different way. My feeling of “why should I care so much about a silly run?” is the perfect mindset from which to explore this lesson.
Without an emotional stake in the outcome I could create space for myself to observe my thoughts from a distance, get perspective, and consider alternatives.
I may not have been sitting with my eyes closed and chanting mantras, but the experience was no less of a meditation than if I had been in silence. It was practice.
So often we don’t even notice when we jump to conclusions or make assumptions. We are lost in trance as we react to things in our environment throughout the day.
When we bring awareness to our thoughts, we open the door to more possibilities.
Here is the formula:
- Create space for your experience.
- Observe what you notice.
- Hold the space for yourself to create perspective.
- From that perspective, allow yourself to be open to other possibilities.
That’s the practice. It’s not always easy. It can be a challenge simply to stop.
With enough practice, I expect that eventually I’ll be able to get the same perspective even when my emotions are involved. For now, for today, this was good practice.
I’m curious to learn:
- What was your initial thought about what the Chardonnay Run is?
- When you stop to observe your thoughts, what do you notice?
- Can you create perspective to think of other possibilities?
- Most important, where else can you apply this practice today?
Please share with me in the comments.
*PS – I will share the answer about the run in a future update. I want to hear your guesses first. Stay tuned.