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What To Do In The Meantime


I received the following comment in the “What is your greatest difficulty with living authentically?” box in the side bar.  (I would like to know yours too.  Just type in the square box to the right of this post under “answer”.)  Here is the comment:

Here’s my off-the-cuff answer for living life authentically, and my difficulty, or what i perceive my difficulty would/to be.

The meantime. The in-the-meantime moments.

This is without me knowing what your definition of authentic living is. And without me really producing a definition of my own. Again, off-the-cuff. To me, authentic parallels real.


My Definition of Living Authentically . . .

I think that for all of us some things matter more than others. We have a sense that some things, relationships and individuals are closer to us, or ‘more us’, than other things, relationships and people.

I don’t care much about clothing but do value my favourite books and a couple of pieces of clothing. The books for the insight they brought me, the clothes for a kind of flamboyance (which I don’t usually bother to express).

I care much more for some people than others – most of the world I haven’t met and am quite indifferent too really.

So I think we have a sense of ‘a part’ of us that is our core. This gets spoken of as our “heart” sometimes perhaps our “soul” or “spirit”.

When we are in touch with this core of who we are (our gift, vocation, spirit, heart, liveliness . . . ) our life is qualitatively different to when we are just going through the motions.

When we are in touch with our deepest, most precious, self then we have a sense of being engaged with life (even if the aspect we are engaged with is some of the worst aspects – talking to a friend who has been assaulted or raped or fired by a company despite years of dedicated service for instance). When we can look after ourselves and stay engaged then we are nourished (even if we are dealing with the dark stuff). I also want to emphasise that for many of us for much of the time we overlook the good stuff – many small delights (like a flower glimpsed, or the freshness after the rain or a genuine smile from a checkout operator, or the pleasure of walking along). Authenticity doesn’t mean ignoring the good the dark aspects of life. It also means being in touch with the good stuff (and this is, curiously, what we often do devalue and ignore).

My definition of living authentically is: living from the core of who we are. Which means being in touch with the world around, our own situation (the dark as well as the light); and, our responses to it (not blocking those which may be ‘negative’ or ‘positive’). Doing this leads to a lasting and substantial sense of satisfaction.


In the Meantime – Goals and Destinations

Planning and anticipating, visualising and timetabling are all valuable parts of our humanity I think. They can give direction to our lives and be pleasurable to engage in.

They also can leave out our present experience. We can believe that what we are doing now doesn’t compare to our goal or destination. Even if what we are doing now is taking steps to reach where we are headed.

I think this might be what is meant by ‘in the meantime’ – the stuff that happens while we aren’t where we most want to be. All those things which aren’t our goal or destination – and some of which may even get in the way of us getting there. Though for me ‘in the meantime’ doesn’t have a strong sense of frustration or anger – of being blocked. More a feeling of indifference.

This might be what John Lennon was talking about (in Beautiful Boy) when he said that:

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.


Lots of Stuff
There is lots of stuff that is just ordinary; that doesn’t relate directly to what we most care about. In some ways there is lots of ‘meantime’ in our lives.

What to do?
I have several ideas about what to do with the ‘meantime’.

1. Do as much as you can of what you care about and let the stuff that doesn’t matter slide. This will lead to you doing more of what you love.

2. Introducing more steps toward doing what comes from your core. Replacing some of the trivia with stuff that means more. (This presumes there is some trivia to replace. This may well not be your situation at the moment.)
Fifteen minutes a day, or even a week, can add up over a year (depending on what it is you are doing).

3. Bringing awareness or a spiritual practise to the ‘meantime’ stuff.

Standing in line is an opportunity to:
get in touch with your senses
call a friend on your mobile phone to say hi
focus on something that you have been only half aware of.


These are my suggestions about what to do with the ‘meantime’. I hope they are helpful.  I hope they respond helpfully to the comment.  If you have other suggestions about what to do in the meantime please add them in the comments.

I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don't hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Mary 2013/02/15, 12:25 pm

    You know, Evan, probably the only thing better than receiving feedback, is someone mining for answers to a question you have, a hard question, a question that you struggle to find an answer to. Thank you so very much.
    Although you may style a flamboyant streak in pieces of clothing, the style of your written word is thankfully found nestled under a layer of ‘authentic.’ And I would choose authentic over flamboyant any day.
    Your blog is fabulous and dug right in. Bullseye on the target, just like you have done in other blogs. Accuracy is a gift that you have. In this dialogue/blog, you helped me achieve the knowledge of what makes up part of my core, my spirit– that which creates an affinity in me and which I open-arm willingly and with great gladness. That discovery feels pretty darn good, my core– my me, part of what makes me so darn great.
    You’re right. Some of those ‘meantime’ moments are me wrestling with things that I am un-right with. Reading your message gives me an understanding to relax my belly, relax in moments alone, relax even in light of a past that has dark connotations. That perhaps some of that darkness will be revealed by living in the light and illuminating it, instead of blindly moving about in the dark and guessing where the targets for destruction live.
    You’re awesome, and with this follow-up, I will take it upon myself to create less sabotage of meantime moments, and spend them more meaningfully– maybe even laying down a faith that alternative paths to past wrongdoings done to me, eventually will dislodge and bubble up to the surface where they can either be popped, or studied and then popped.

    Thank you so much, again, Evan……

  • Evan 2013/02/15, 1:53 pm

    You’re very welcome Mary. It’s delightful to hear that what I wrote hit the bullseye.

  • Chris Edgar 2013/02/15, 3:58 pm

    I like what you say about focusing on the “meantime” — the moments of “process” in life, when we’re moving toward a goal, as opposed to the moments when we’re basking in having realized it (at least, this is how I interpreted “meantime”) — being able to be aware, and enjoy life, in those moments, I think, is so key.
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  • Mary 2013/02/15, 4:10 pm

    Some might know what their core is straightaway. Others, it’s so hard to get to that. I so often need a lighted pathway with an arrow on it telling me where to find things, even my core. That’s why your very specific diagrams are helpful to me. You say some key words. Like the first time I read this post, the tears fell at the sound of the words ‘most precious.’ Like wherever ‘most precious’ is, it’s tender and it hurts.
    I lost my most important guide when I was a very young baby. My mother was unable to nurture me. There are wide degrees of uncertainties when we lose our primary need and closest comfort– the one who helps us write amazing discoveries on our white board, and the safe environment to do just that. Not too much is known about this sort of loss, but I can tell you about the ache of empty.
    I struggle to put more of what my mom would have given me in order to sidestep an evil stepmother who came into my life from 6 to 17. That is what I try to overwrite and close doors because of and run away from. I am trying to find the deep heart of me under all the wreckage. More meaningfulness poured in to the moments of meantime just might give me another arrow for that most precious direction home.

  • Evan 2013/02/15, 6:06 pm

    Thanks for your comment Chris. I heartily agree.

  • Evan 2013/02/15, 6:09 pm

    Hi Mary, I will deal this in one of the upcoming posts. (I said your comment required a post but when I started writing I found I’ll need two (or maybe more).) However I will be talking about how to know/find your core in the next few days. I hope it will be helpful.

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