Note: This is a transcription of the vlog entry on my Youtube channel. Get the link here.
To find a quiet place in a very noisy world, I oftentimes find myself doing a reboot. I’d visit churches, especially the old traditional churches with high ceiling. I would spend a few days in prayer, away from my office. I would break a sweat climbing mountains and enjoy the sweeping vista from the top. I would go on a long journey to stand before a crystal blue sea, and just stare out at the horizon, especially at sundown.
Now that our lives have changed, how can you reset your life?
My answer: Make subtle shifts in our daily habits.
Hear me out.
Have you ever experienced this sense of being refreshed and renewed in such extraordinary moments when you are removed from the busyness and craziness of everyday living? My heart would feel elated, and a warm and cozy energy would surge through my body. All the tensions and worries of daily life slowly diminishes for a few minutes of staring at the sunrise, or even the sunset when the great ball of fire turns reddish before it disappears. You can just feel yourself alive at the moment, and often you would wish that time would stand still before the evening.
I often find myself losing my footing. I worry about many people who matter to me. I get confused when barraged with information from social media and the chatter of companions. That is why I would seek out the extraordinary, in an attempt to reboot my mental balance.
I have pushed reset several times, and wished there would be a reset soon. But the extraordinary remains outside of the everyday. I would seek them out, try an adventure, like seeking for a treasure.
But I would return still to regular life, and stress accumulates, and the mind gets bogged down in a lot of things. Feeling heavily burdened, I seek out the extraordinary. No matter how I would rant about the complexity of life, changing the world, even one day at a time, is no simple task. Does this never-ending cycle sound familiar to all if not, some of you? If I can’t change the world the way I want it, oftentimes dangerous because I tend to believe that my how-to-do-it is also how-God-wants-it, then perhaps I have to change myself. If it is obvious that it is not what God wants, for very clear reasons in prayer or feedback from people, it is therefore me who should change, because God’s ways are not mine.
And then the virus hit us hard, and there is no way to climb mountains or stare at the sea, unless you live near it. The world I know is now different and it demands a change of lifestyle and a different paradigm. I cannot move through it comfortably as before, and I must find a way to live with it with ease.
Maybe if I would just go out of my way to seek the extraordinary, what if I could just live freely, subtly changing the usual ways in my everyday life? I don’t believe that changing my lifestyle needs to be difficult. Maybe a slight change in my habit; or a subtle shift in my perspective will help.
I realize I don’t need to go to old Spanish churches to find solace; or to climb mountains or explore the streets of the world; or live near the sea to stare at the horizon. With really some minor effort, it is possible to savor the extraordinary. Especially in a lockdown; or when our lives are threatened by the virus, it is better to stay safe at home, and find the extraordinary there.
Adopting some very simple habits, life can become so much more relaxed.
Take for example organizing our desktop. The state of my desk reflects the state of my mind. If my desk gets cluttered and messy, I become unsettled and unfocused. When things get out of order, I straighten them out. I think this is a good way to cope with our online life. When the day ends, and before you finish work, tidying up your desktop can be therapeutic. I remember when I was starting off as a Jesuit, we were asked to clean the building every day. We call it, “manualia,” and we cleaned every morning at 8. It was not to feed the obsessive-compulsiveness of our lives, but the reason was anything but shallow. We cleaned with all our heart, not because the place was dirty. The purpose was not only to make the floor sparkle, but also to polish our minds through the act of cleaning. With every sweep of the mop, we cleared out the dust in our minds.
This applies to our desks where we work and study. Do not allow yourself to be disrupted by your anxieties, the key is to keep your mind invigorated by putting the things around you in order. Cleaning hones the mind. In the complexities of the world, simple changes can make a huge difference in our lives. This can help you reboot while at home.