The Benefits of Streaking

So if we define “streaking” as a daily practice of tending to a thing that keeps us aligned with our dharma, or our core values, or our life mission, it stands to reason that the doing of that thing is going to promote calmness in us.

Because when we are not in alignment, there is a constant “buzz” inside us that we spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to ignore.  We’re always feeling angst-y and discontent with the present because we’re off our game.  But as soon as we start tending to our stuff, the buzz quiets and there is an inner clarity and peace.

All the energy that was going into pretending it was okay not to do what we were put on earth to do, or to live in harmony with our “proclaimed” values, can now go into fueling the journey to integrity.  This frees up our prana (aka our vitality, ebullience, life force, enthusiasm) and we start to emit a vibe that can be felt and picked up by others who may be inspired to start tending to their own streak.

You will also find that if you spend part of your day tending your streak, after a while your streak becomes who you are. You become identified by what you consistently do“She’s the runner.”  “He’s the writer.” “She’s the one who trains dogs.”

And because streaks are not abstract concepts but actions in the world,– visible, empirical, sense-verifiable things, they can provide you with some powerful feedback.

There are 2 basic ways that streaks do this.

Streaks as Mirrors

You may think that your selection of a thing to streak was rather whimsical, or just some self-improvement project you took on as a lark.

But despite the seemingly lighthearted way you selected your “streak thing” the streak is going to reveal you to yourself in myriad and unexpected ways.  It will show you aspects of yourself you never saw before. It will give you a picture of yourself.

This picture develops over time, like a Polaroid.  The longer you sustain the streak the clearer you will become to yourself.  At first, there’s just a foggy nothing, but as the days pile up an image comes forth from the fog.  Blurred edges sharpen, more details emerge.  You get the “aha” moment of recognition: “So that’s who I am!”

And why is this important? Because once you know who you are (at least a little) you can start to make life choices based on this knowledge.  You will know, for instance, what people light you up, and why. You will know what kinds of work suits you best.  You will discover, finally, what you want to be when you grow up, because you are now lots clearer about who “you” are.

Streaks as Windows

Because streaks are not abstract ideas in your head but actions in the world, they will move you (literally and figuratively) out of the confining landscape of the usual and familiar, and place you in a new vantage point.

This vantage point is a lot like looking down at the ground from up in a plane. As you gain altitude in a plane, you suddenly see your town or your city from a new perspective. You see people the size of ants (if  you can see people at all) and tiny houses and little cars and ribbons of highways.  You know (because you live down there) that inside those houses mothers are yelling at their kids to hurry up and get ready, and in those cars people are griping about the traffic, or thinking about work. People are dying in hospitals, babies are being born, and kids are blowing out birthday candles down there.

From your removed vantage point in the plane, you start to feel a deep affection for these “ants” and their little ant lives, because you know that you will soon land and become one of them.

Then one day, deep into your streak, maybe a year or so, you start to seriously question the importance of keeping the thing going.  You start to see the running or the writing or the meditating or whatever your “streak thing” is as utterly insignificant in face of your essential “ant” nature.  You realize that it doesn’t really matter what you do.  The streak doesn’t matter. Nothing really matters.  Your an ant.

But instead of filling you with existential nihlism, this realization of your “ant-ness” begins to engender a feeling of great tenderness towards yourself and your fellow ants. And had it not been for your devotion to your streak, and the focus and calmness and self-knowledge it afforded you, you would still be cranky and grouchy and discontented, living deeply embroiled in the ant life without even knowing it.

(tomorrow: What to do when a streak comes to an end.)

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