Be not do
With a butterscotch pound cake in the oven and a load of laundry in the dryer, my two sons sleep; I will wake them in about an hour. They will spend the second half of their Christmas break with their father. Then I am off to work. After being away for a week, I expect the schedule to be busy(and it is). But, I am agile in this environment. I chug along like the little engine. Meanwhile, my mind assesses the year past and the year ahead. Where have I been and where am I going? Is it where I want to go? Am I headed in the right direction?
So many tenets in personal coaching and modern philosophy are to be authentic, engaged and in the moment. Live for NOW. Be present and appreciate the now [now as a noun]. People have a tendency to be focused on a distant goal or desire, usually an amorphous concept like “I want to be successful.” But being identified with an intangible, nebulous and distant dream isn’t what steals us from being present in this particular moment. The true thief is that we focus on the mechanics of how we are going to get there. We are in the moment in a sense, the way a factory worker focuses on the conveyor belt. We are so focused on the task that we miss smelling the roses or appreciating a lover’s touch but we also have our head down so much and for so long that we lose site of the dream.
The future shifts. The goal we thought was fixed in the future is actually in orbit and not so fixed. Or we saw it in profile and when we get closer our perspective shifts; it is not what we thought it to be. Suddenly, we are endeavoring at a long list of tasks and assignments aimed at getting us to a goal we may no longer desire. And, we’ve been so focused on the DOING that we
- haven’t enjoyed our time, or even found joy in the doing of the tasks.
- end up missing so much with our noses on the grind stone, our vision narrowed to a small cone of awareness.
- forgot to check if we were headed in the right direction and that obstacles or natural disaster haven’t blocked the road.
It is like the family vacation. We say we want to see the Grand Canyon. We plan the trip, buy tickets, pack the bags; we think of everything. We think we are so clever and prepared. But then little things go wrong. We forget the camera and we feel like an idiot. We can buy a new camera but it is the mistake that gnaws at us. We don’t anticipate the weather change because who can truly predict the weather? Someone else in the travel group falls and gets injured. It slows us down and lays a pale over the group. Layer upon layer of crap happens but we adjust and accommodate, finally reaching the rim of the Canyon. And then what? It is beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, awesome and beyond comprehension much less description……but then someone else in our group starts complaining (or we start complaining): hunger, fatigue, heatstroke, flies, fear of heights…whatever. And the whole goal is overshadowed by the lamentations. And for all the time we spend trying to GET THERE….how much time to we actually spend THERE, appreciating it, savoring it, allowing it to imprint our minds and hearts?
And then….then we hear this faint, squeaky voice in our heads….”This is amazing but I wanted to sail the Caribbean.” It isn’t a lack of gratitude or an inability to be satisfied…it is a fixation on the DOING of a project without thinking about the actual project. We focus on HOW and not WHAT. Someone suggests, “Let’s go there.” And we zoom around building the road to get us THERE…except….do we ask ourselves if we wanted to go there? I am easily set upon the tasking and the doing; I fail to ask (even myself)…once I do all this planning and complete this project…will I be where I want to be? Am I spending my energy at the tasks of getting my life to where I wish to be and am I doing it in a method that satisfies my soul.
When I assess BOTH the destination and method, then I am in balance. Yes, that is where I want to go or hope to go. And yes, this method of how I want to get there is acceptable. I am capable of this, I feel confident in it, I like the people with whom I am likely to be traveling.But IF I succeed in getting myself to where I wish to be….will I be able to enjoy it?
We are so focused on the control and the power of DOING that we cannot permit the surrender to JUST BEING.
Being requires NOT doing. Being is stillness and awareness and presence. But don’t confuse lassitude and indifference with being present. BEING is an action and requires energy, but it is the energy of a capacitor, it is stored but accessible. Being is not MOTION. It does not have force. It does have power. And the longer you permit yourself to BE, the greater power you have stored and can access for the DOING. Doing to simply DO exhausts resources and deletes stored energy.
The last week of vacation was a great time to just BE. Be with my sons. Be with myself. Be with my sister and mother. Be with Christ. I did a little bit of DOING. I did make cookies and some gifts. I did see a movie. But I did not run around and fill every day with tasks and chores and projects. There was stuff I COULD have done that I did not do….and I am okay with that. It will get done.
I am hit with the phrase, “I just want to BE me.” Being oneself, knowing oneself, growing and elf discovery is about BEING and not doing. I had a great vacation.