Working on My ‘To Be’ List

by Stephen Simmer – MKP USA Mission Circle Coordinator

I don’t read emails, I scan them. The idea of slowing down and staying fully present with a thought is very difficult, very foreign to me. If you’re like me, you might notice a persistent voice, right now, telling you to hurry through this email, to grab the point that Simmer is making, deposit into the meaning-bank for possible future use, and move onto the next email waiting in the inbox. If you’re like me, right now you’re saying to yourself, “I got it” and hurdling over phrases and sentences to get to the next paragraph to see if there’s more you need to grab. If you’re like me, you don’t read, you plunder for necessary meaning as if you’re looting a store for a couple of things of value.

I’m also aware that I’m that way with many parts of my life I supposedly care about. I listen with a half an ear to my kids, I listen to my wife impatiently, hoping she will get to the point so I can move on, I hurry down the road with my dogs to get the walk out of the way as fast as I can so I can get onto some other tasks that I can also hurry through.

When I think of working more on mission, there is a voice in me that says emphatically, “I don’t have time to do any more.” The conveyer belt is too fast already. I need to work, sack the trash, lug the air conditioners back to the garage, order the stone for the patio, pick up the prescription. Mission? Maybe I can schedule some world-transformation Tuesday between my son’s soccer game and grilling the burgers. If I can’t sandwich it in there, I’ll get to it next lifetime, or the one after that. My mission gradually becomes my o-mission, what I leave out.

This is all wrong. I was taught on my training many years ago that a mission statement had a vision and an action. An action: I saw it as another task on my endless to-do list. But what if mission is not a job? What if it’s really a presence? What if it’s a challenge to do less, with magnificence? What if it means slowing down, committing to be fully present in this ordinary, splendid moment? What if mission means that I commit myself to be a human be-ing rather than a human do-ing? What if busy-ness is a symptom of evasion of what really matters?

Athletes talk of special times when the game slows down, and maybe mission is really about a commitment to slowing life down so that moments become momentous. These are the moments of Flow that Mihaly Csikszentmihaly identified. This precious moment with my son outside school when he quietly takes my hand as we walk. This encounter with the CVS clerk. This walk with my dog in the rain, both of us dying, him probably a few steps ahead of me, leading the way. I’m ditching my to-do list and starting a to-be list. And what is startling to me is that there is only one thing on the list: to answer the door and welcome the visitor who has been waiting.

Stephen Simmer

Steve Simmer, for those of us privileged to know him, lives his life in the midst of the constant stream and theme of mission. Appropriately enough, one of his formal mission statements is that he “creates a world of freedom by encouraging men with my courage to do all that they can be and to be all that they can do.” By profession a psychotherapist, he works continuously to inspire men to actively find and engage in their own mission in this world. Dr. Simmer completed the New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2001, and has never been the same man since.
To learn more about Steve and his work you can visit his website

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.

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