For many years now I have been fascinated with how there are times that feel as if time, and the daily realities of ones' life, overrun and sweep you off your feet; times when every day feels like a blur of sameness, with random novelty thrown in to create a little spice. I like to think of these auto-pilot days as the times when our lives and actions are so aligned we breeze along, windswept and unconscious to how our bones are scraping, to the glacial movement of our skin softening, and the way our words seem to drip down through the spine slithering off our tongue as if by some unknowable magic.
These are the days that snap apart on a Monday afternoon, as you sit (or in this case, stand) at your desk, looking at a calendar and you're suddenly struck with the reality that "Fuck this year is more than halfway over", and it feels like a punch to the gut. Not because you've been unproductive, not because the year has been bad, but just... where has it gone?! You already know the answer, but it seems unfathomable that you've come so far in such a long (or is it short?) amount of time. All the fervor and cultural cache of a new year has fully swept away, and now everyone is just worried about summer holidays, and you know Halloween will be here sooner than ever, and you know the time between Halloween and the next year is barely longer than the blink of an eye.
I relish and find fascination in these days, and how they impact my perception of a years passing because they seem to happen more and more frequently as I age; and yet while I say this I realize there are swathes of time I can not recall from my past - moments lost forever to memory, to the rot of too much development, tossed in the trash to make room for the now, and then now for tomorrow.
There is a cultural assumption that being present is "the right way to be", that a mindful life is a happy life - and I am by no means here to refute that, I do my best to practice mindfulness, empathy, and compassion through my actions, thoughts and meditation practices. But there is a shadow side to life that we seem to ignore in this paradigm: the truth of mindfulness is that we can only carry so much of it, at some point we all go on auto-pilot, and this does not mean that we have wasted time, that we have spoiled our day, or left something important on the cutting room floor. In fact, I might argue these are the moments we are most ourselves. When we try to push them away, to eliminate or denigrate them, we are lacking gratitude and compassion towards ourselves - for we do not only need rest as humans, we also need to float.
As with any other type of negative self talk, beating yourself up for being on autopilot, for being bored, for feeling like you've lost days to the blur of life, is just another form of this negative self perception, and at the end of the day (or month, or year, or decade) it will harm us. Embrace the moments you feel absentminded, snap yourself back to reality and enjoy the float, do not try and sink your body with the stones of doubt, self pity or self flagellation - float on, float on, float on.