An Experiment in Showing Up…

by chelseawattsny

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This week I took on the habit of asking myself everyday “If I were living life dynamically, what would I do today?; what would I do in this very moment?” I’m not gonna lie…I drew a lot of blanks. It was easy to rush to the big ideas like hailing a cab to the airport and hopping on a plane to Fiji, but unfortunately, exciting as all these ideas were, they did little to spur me into action. In fact they seemed to have the opposite affect as they continually looped back to the same overwhelming thought – “I don’t have enough money” – which in turn left me feeling more helpless than before. On the verge of shelving the discussion – or rather internal monologue – for a later date and time, I then thought of my commitment to living dynamically…READ: I thought “what am I going to have to write about on my post next week if I don’t find something cool to do?” I then decided to take a different approach. Instead of thinking in terms of big and dramatic I decided to give myself a break and to try thinking small and accessible. Here’s what I came up with: “what if I just check out what cool things my friends up to?”

SIDE NOTE: If you have never lived in NYC, the novelty of this idea may take a little explanation. I have a lot of friends in this city whom I love dearly…and see rarely. Mostly it’s because NY is so fueled by the drive to be productive that we tend to be “too busy” to make time for one another, and in general most of my friend’s are actually doing really amazing things in the seemingly brief 24 hours they’ve been allotted each day. So yes, gone are the days of stopping by a friend’s place just to see what they’re up to – if I’m meeting with a friend it’s because I scheduled it into my day…usually at least two weeks in advance. But I digress…

By checking in with the cool things my friends are doing, I hoped that in addition to hanging out with with them I’d: A) at least get out of the house; B) some of that might rub off on me; and C) I might stumble upon some deep sounding insight which I could then write about.  So here’s what I did…

Last Sunday my guy played in a charity basketball tournament and I went to cheer him on. As a nice bonus, they were playing on the famous W 4th st courts and I was able to cross one more thing off my bucket list: watch a street basketball game in NYC. At first I felt a little awkward as I seemed to be the only designated cheerleader in attendance and the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass my guy. Then I started talking to people and making friends. I met Bob and Mary, a friendly older couple who just stopped by because they enjoy watching the game; I talked to the other guys who were playing ball, and whose fun camaraderie I found to be infectious; and best of all I got to watch my guy in his element doing something he loves to do. How often to we take the opportunity to witness our loved ones in their full glory doing what they love to do? And on the flip side, how often do we give our them the opportunity to support us in what we love to do? 

Later that evening I went to watch a fantastic musician and friend perform his music at Pianos in the East Villiage. As someone who rarely goes out in the evenings – I’m not just lame, I’m also a mom – watching my friend play was a huge treat. Throughout his set he brought up other musicians on stage to perform with him and that generous act of sharing the stage added to much to his performance – it filled it out the experience and turned his performance into a beautiful patchwork quilt of music. There again I made new friends, and one person in particular that I met was a huge encouragement to me to continue writing – I’m currently writing a screenplay for a feature film, and I’ve been stu-uck. He had some great ideas to get me motivated and more importantly writing again.

I could go on and on with stories from the rest of the week about the ways that my life was enriched by the simple act of reaching out to people and how I was actually the beneficiary when I showed up to support my friends but perhaps the greatest illustration is this:

Last Tuesday I was cast in a Guest Star role on ABCs Betrayal (all the more exciting because this is my FIRST role on a television show) and I of course plastered that all over Facebook right away! In the past people would congratulate me and though it was nice I never allowed it to impact me much – somehow I saw it my achievements as personal, my own, and I didn’t see how anyone could really care about what I did…largely because I didn’t give much thought to what others were doing.  The unexpected gift that came from a week focused on supporting and contributing to others was that I let my guard down enough to really experience the love and support of all the people in my life and to experience how happy it made them to be able to cheer me on and to be a part of my life and the wonderful things I’m doing. Suddenly I got how my victory was their victory too because that was what I had observed all week – when my friends were excited and lit up about what they were doing I was excited and lit up too and whether they “succeeded” or not I was inspired to get off the bench and start playing…in the game of life that is…wow! lol…would you like butter with that corn?! 

And now I’d like to draw your attention back to the picture at the beginning of this post. I took that on my jog around Michigan Lake this morning…in Chicago! Where, did I mention, I’m filming a TV show! Woowhoo! I’d say that’s living life pretty damn dynamically!