July 27, 2021

It’s a Matter of Mindfulness: Approaching Life through Passion Projects.


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You know it’s been an upside-down year when the current NBA Finals MVP becomes a source for mindfulness.

As a sports fan, I am used to athletes reciting clichés with their eyes closed.

However, this year’s NBA finals star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, offers an enlightened take. During the press conference before game five of the finals, he provides his approach to the playoffs, saying:

When I focus on my past, that’s my ego. When I focus on my future, that’s my pride. I kind of try to focus on the moment, in the present. That’s humility. That’s being humble. That’s going out there, enjoying the game, competing at a high level. I think I’ve had people throughout my life that helped me with that. But that is a skill that I’ve tried to, like, kind of—how do you say it, perfect it, master it. And it’s been working so far. So, I’m not going to stop.

It’s a rare thing to witness a superstar athlete full of modesty and humility nowadays. Who would expect a famous basketball player to offer a mindful teaching moment? Unfortunately, we cannot expect such qualities from America’s political leadership.

Can you blame a brother for trying to learn from the past to improve his future? This reminds me of the song “It’s so hard to say goodbye from yesterday,from the movie “Cooley High”. As human beings, we look back on our fondest memories with friends and family. It is only natural to look back and smile about life’s brightest moments.

When it comes to life right now, there isn’t really cause for optimism. Sometimes, individuals need a little distraction. We need a break from news chronicling “as the world unravels.” The news has gotten so bad that we now have to hear about bored billionaires launching into space.

In other news, just when we think we have put the pandemic away, the Delta variant emerges in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases was roughly 26,300—a nearly 70 percent jump over the previous average.”

In the middle of all this madness, individuals are walking away from their work. Based on a study by Microsoft, 41 percent of workers across the world are considering quitting their jobs. I don’t blame people for walking away. The combination of endless meetings and boring office banter can drive people to the brink.

The cubicle nation stifles souls, drains brain cells, and induces anger. As for the people considering quitting, economists are calling this trend, “The great resignation.” Some experts believe workers want fewer hours and more flexibility.

But I believe it’s about damn time we reconsider how we work. There are many people who hate grinding it out on the highways and enduring the gauntlet subway commute. The American workforce resembles Sisyphus, carrying the world on his shoulder.

God placed us on top of the food chain and gave us dominion over the world. Yet, we need wiser souls to remind the rest of us to drink water, take deep breaths, and stay in the here and now.

In examining Giannis Antetokounmpo’s words, it is a provocative statement. When concentrating on the moment, there is no time for ego or pride. It may be easier for an NBA All-star to remain engaged while pursuing a championship. However, some of us still struggle with looking back at regrets and worrying about what’s ahead.

One suggested remedy for this struggle involves a passion project. A passion project consists of work or activity (outside of your job) that gives us satisfaction, happiness, and can lead to find fulfillment. For instance, creative writing is a textbook example of a passion project.

At this point, some of us may have multiple passions that we need a passion project portfolio. As for yours truly, volunteering at my local parish and participating in yoga classes is a blessing.

After more than a year of taking Zoom yoga classes online, I returned to the studio. The studio owner extended an invitation to practice in person because of my back pain. The adjustments she provided during class felt restorative.

For 12 years, Opus Yoga has served as my go-to refuge from all the storms and stress I endure during a grueling workweek. The camaraderie provided by faculty and classmates fosters a community of mindful movement, built upon the breath.

The past is gone. Unless MIT develops a time machine, we cannot go back. The future is ahead. We only have the here and now, minute to minute, to make the most of every moment.

Passion projects provide a nice approach to making the most of the present.


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