My parents have a beautiful, inviting home with a special room for chanting twice a day, every day. Morning and evening I heard the sound of their voices permeate the house, and I had the great privilege of growing up in this rhythm. I realize now that rhythms have been an integral part of my life. The sounds of trains running over tracks, the cadence of rainfall on rooftops, the beat of my current favorite song (yep, it’s still M.I.A. — “Go Off”), and now my own Buddhist practice, so much of everyday life has a pulse.
But simply observing the rhythms around me is entirely different from creating them to form, say, a healthy habit like exercise or to develop a new craft like hand lettering. And if your goal is to not suck at something new, establishing consistency and a regular practice is an absolute necessity. However, one observation about creating rhythms stands out in my mind — my parents are by far the most consistent people I have ever known.
Without fail, regardless of their busy or stressful schedules, my parents bookend their days with morning and evening prayers. My dad has taken three sick days in his entire working life and his comment about that is, “well, it isn’t a perfect record.” My mom has written a journal entry every night in her 10-year diary to complete several volumes now. My point isn’t that my parents are robots (they’re not), but that they’ve given me lifelong examples of what a practiced, consistent rhythm can bring. In the case of their Buddhist practice, it has brought courage, determination, wisdom, and the compassion to live earnest lives.
This year as an Experience Institute fellow, I want to keep my family in mind as I build and actualize my own rhythms throughout the year. The reason I decided to take this time to explore my many passions was because I wanted to live true to the intrepid and creative nature I had stifled for too long. Living an honest life sounds wonderful and all, but I know in reality if I lived too honest a life, I’d be sitting on the couch eating pizza off my stomach while watching Broad City. Instead, this year will be about intentionality and consistency. My goal is to live honestly with full-out effort and commitment to the rhythms I established at the end of August 2016.
I’ll need these rhythms since the many things I’ve traditionally found security in, like a home, job, and social circles, will be changing rapidly in my upcoming year. So here’s to a year full of growth and challenges, new experiences and radical shifts, and consistent rhythms to keep me grounded.
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