On Jerry Seinfeld and Being Present
“Do you know what this is all about, why we’re here? To be “out,” this is “out.” And to be “out” is one of the single most enjoyable experiences of life” - Jerry Seinfeld
In the first scene in the hit ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld, Jerry shares a comedy bit about how we as people are always pursuing “going out.” As humans, we always have a need to go out--to the grocery store, to see friends, to go on vacation, to go experience the world “out” there.
He then mentions how, ironically, once we get “out,” we are consumed by when we’ll have to leave. After all, we want to get home and sleep and get ready to go “out” again, right? “Wherever you are in life, it’s my feeling, you’ve got to go,” he says to a burst of laughter.
This monologue by Jerry Seinfeld delivered more than 30 years ago lives rent free in my head. He perfectly captures one of the endless cycles we as humans live with. How we kind of miss the whole point. We are all so caught up in the “going out” and “leaving to come home” that we often miss the whole part about enjoying being whenever we ARE.
Now how does this who concept relate to Evoke? To therapy in general? Well, I didn’t really start thinking about the concept of “being present” until I got to Evoke to work as a field instructor. It was 2016, I was fresh out of college, a 21-year-old man about to have some of the most profound learning experiences of his life.
One of the catch paraphrases in the field that I picked up on quickly was, “It’s okay, we’re in the desert. We have all the time in the world.” It was the elder field instructors’ way of easing the anxiety and concerns of the less-experienced staff. When a younger staff (like me) realized that breakfast was "supposed to" end an hour ago or that we were “supposed to” be at our new campsite two hours ago… I was told our favorite catch phrase.
The longer I worked at Evoke, the more I began to understand that we truly did have all the time in the world, and that maybe that philosophy didn’t end when I left the desert. I could allow myself to enjoy and experience the highs and lows of life without constant worry about the need to leave my house soon to beat the traffic, or be the first to stand up as soon as the airplane landed on vacation.
I could be present and enjoy being “out,” wherever I was.
During my second summer with Evoke, I decided to step away from the field for a few months and practice being present. I hiked the Continental Divide Trail, just shy of 3,000 miles, from the border of Canada to Mexico. Hiking the length of the United States was not an act of trying to go get out and get back home as soon as possible. I was reminded of that when meeting new people along the way and hearing them tell me how I “could drive my car from one end of the US to the other in three days” if I wanted to. And when they would list all of the more efficient forms of transportation, I would think of that Seinfeld monologue.
It was kind of the whole point--not to try and see how fast I could get from point A to point B, and then go home. It was a 130-day journey. One step at a time, being present with the people and world around me.
Now my days look very different from hiking with some of my favorite students who are trying to figure themselves out at Evoke or going on some epic journey walking too many miles across the country. These days I find myself behind a computer screen or working with our amazing participants to make sure they have a successful experience with our Intensive Therapy Retreats in Northern Utah. But the essence of being present is still something I try to practice daily. I often remind myself that I have more time than I think, both in my personal and professional life.
I am still learning to enjoy the spaces in between going out and leaving to go home. Because that's where life is actually happening.
And I thank Evoke and Jerry Seinfeld for that lesson.