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No More FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

No More FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

I overheard myself tell a friend the other day, “I’m not busy, but I’m full.”  More wisdom/truth there than I at first realized.

I have worked very hard over a long lifetime, the work blessedly meaningful, thank goodness. But I did start leaning into retirement even before the pandemic, yearning for more spaciousness of being, not just doing. The pandemic, at least my response to it, really ramped up the doing, and long days, one after the other for weeks – months, became full of stressing-striving-strategizing.

My intention for retirement to Renaissance was to create more time for the nutriments I had relied on to keep all of the stressing-striving going as full-steam ahead as it did: time with friends, time in nature, venturing more deeply in resonant conversations, in reading good books and exploring the wealth of cultural resources in the Bay Area. 

The rest and renewal in those resources has now become the structure of my days. I still do create these newsletters; I mentor teacher trainees in Awakening Joy; I do an occasional podcast and am preparing to teach once more at Cape Cod Institute. But there is a recovery of the nourishment and meaning of those endeavors without the pressure of deadlines and competing-comparing-complaining. 

So I continued the conversation with my friend, “There’s nothing missing.” And that is the key. Perhaps the deepening of spiritual practice as well, that I am simply a conduit for the miraculous mystery of life, not taking things so personally, not looking outward for validation or recognition. No more Fear of Missing Out, because I can rest so contentedly in what is.

I’m blessed at my age, it’s true, with good enough health, and good enough cognitive functioning, and good enough financial security, and good enough healing past traumas and past narratives of “not good enough.” 

And so I found myself, the other day, realizing how content I am with my portion. (That’s a wise instruction from the Talmud, to be content with thy portion.) There’s nothing missing, and there is an abundance of awe and wonder. 

Last weekend I went to the San Francisco Botanical Garden to see the annual spring blooming of 21 varieties of magnolias. Truly an abundance of beauty. And when I wandered into the South Africa section and saw the tiny, tiny blossoms of the heather, I realized I feel myself to be more of a heather than a magnolia. Could be easily overlooked, and yet full of life and wonder. I remembered when I was a a psychotherapy intern, someone at my community counseling center likened me to a redwood tree, so tall and imposing and majestic. Even then, I identified more with the small oxalis that grows in every redwood forest. (They look a bit like a three-leaf clover and are called a false shamrock.) There is something about the humbleness of being small again after the “big” success I had writing books and teaching around the world that is very comforting and reassuring now. No more FOMO, no more fear of missing out. Life right here, right now, is enough.

Leading me toward one of my favorite literary passages of all time, from George Eliot’s Middlemarch:

But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

No more FOMO.