Build Bridges

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Don’t tread water, build bridges.

There are few things that provide more clarity than a walk. Being among nature, looking at the rooftops and the treeline that we so often miss, you find a rare quiet.

The mind piles with minutiae over time. They physically manifest as anything from a mild burning sensation in the forehead to extreme headaches. As these come to a critical point, they must be flushed.

This is quite easy. The natural world–still existing, unabashed–must be rediscovered. I, myself am often guilty of losing sight of the things that matter. I find myself stressed, dead tired and sore for no good reason. There is always a simple cause. I have neglected my body, and I have neglected nature.

There are so many things in life that sap our humanity. From inescapable financial worries to the gigantic social networks you must manage, life encroaches. This artificially inflated realm becomes our own–and worse, our only–world. It pays to reel yourself back in from time to time. You must be reminded that that is not the real world. Being with nature serves this purpose. It connects you to the past.

I live in a cycle. I have weeks of upward spirals: increased productivity and a bolstering of both mood and life satisfaction. But a small problem inevitably comes along and I topple. Everything comes down, and it takes several days to repair myself. But in this time of recession, I don’t worry. Certain things never leave. The wonder of nature and the peace found in quiet contemplation are constants.

When the going gets tough, you must mitigate. And you must have procedures in place to do so. While you are in a high state, create for your future: make a plan for when you have trouble. What will you do, day to day? What will you eat, how often will you exercise? These preset behavior acts as the scaffolding to hold you up during tough times.

The most important part of this scaffolding is journaling. Journaling gives you a birds-eye view of your life. You will identify patterns in your behavior, and you will learn how to play them. You will find yourself consciously heading towards your ideal self. Without journaling, I have found it easy to fall into a rut. In life it is simple to let the small worries absorb you; it is easy to give into baser needs. But in giving in, you lose sight of all that is grand and important. Through journaling, you can end the cycle of being caught by these baser needs and pulling yourself out. You can be permanently conscientious, permanently mindful.

Beyond journaling, you must not forget to keep yourself anchored in reality. The world is split: there is the world of your physical surroundings, and the world through your devices and screens. These must be kept separate, and you must take care to avoid excessive time in the virtual world. Too much time there will cause it to meld with your physical reality; this is dangerous. The internet is a torrent of knowledge. To harvest it, you must take it one bucket at a time. To immerse yourself is to be caught in the torrent and to drown.

I have found that if you let the torrent take hold, with all of its dissonant ideas, you will never accomplish much of note. You will be lost in a whirlwind of love and hate. Accomplish one goal at a time. Quietly empower yourself. There is no need to solve every problem at once. In attempting, you will be paralyzed by choice. I have found that I am most lacking in productivity and purpose when I do not know what I want to do. Once I am sure of where I want to go, things become simple: lay out the steps and follow them. Yogi Berra described this best: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

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