Doing vs. Watching

We all have tendencies. If they are positive we call them talents. If they are negative we call them habits or worse addictions. Two big ones of mine are watching myself and anticipating. I think they are related. I think they are related to wanting to know the “why” of life and to figure out how things work. For me there is a certain sense of security in the knowing. Is it why people have religion? So that there is a definition of the unknown thus making it known and secure.

The watching became clear as I was falling asleep. Ever since I was a little girl—somewhere between seven and nine, I wanted to see myself fall asleep. I was sick and got to sleep in my parents’ bed. I was lying on my side and there was a mirror where I saw my eyes open and close. I was fascinated and wanted to “see” the moment that I fell asleep.

Of course it never happened. We don’t “fall” asleep. We are awake and one breath later we are asleep. (I wonder if it is the same when we die? I can watch myself up to the moment where I passed over.) We can only watch ourselves in the past tense—not “-ing”. We are only participat-ing if we are in the present.

Many things that I like deal with the doing and watching simultaneously: rehearsing/practicing, teaching, standardized patient (SP) work, improvising. When I can’t work out a passage, I look in the mirror and can see my finger combinations. This almost always helps me get it right. I don’t know what to say to students until I observe them, then the answer is clear. As an SP I have to “be” the patient as well as notice the behaviors of the doctor student so that I can give feedback. When improvising, I am keeping track of what happened and how I will use that to develop my line and the complete form.

Thinking about it, everything in life is a back and forth of doing and observing. Cooking: you taste it to adjust the spice; dressing: you look in the mirror to see if things match and hopefully are somewhat flattering; writing: you write and then go back and edit! Seeing itself is going between light and dark when we blink. I wonder if psychosis is when you are caught in the doing and forget to step out and observe? Or could psychosis be being caught in perpetual observation so there is no freedom to be? Or does fear keep us on this teeter-tatter not allowing us to just “be.”

Nothing on earth is static: day/night, north/south poles, high/low tide, new/full moon… It may be in a state of stasis, but there is always movement between. Even inanimate objects are made up of atoms with moving electrons.

My goal is to be both at the same time. Can I be fully immersed while I’m aware of what I’m doing? I don’t think it’s possible. It will always be a back and forth. I will just work on getting that fluctuation so quick that it is imperceptible.