Let’s continue from last week’s rant shall we?
Then there’s the poster that says Have Less Do More and no matter how I look at that one, I can’t agree with it.
As far as I can see, the whole point of minimalism is to free us up to enjoy being. But, somehow, we’re not entirely comfortable with that idea.
It’s as if we believe we have to have certain level of stress in our lives or we’re being irresponsible. Childish, even.
You see it at play when you get together with others, this sort of competition to see who is the busiest person. The answer to questions of “How are you?” “How was your weekend?” always have to have some claim of “busy” to be legitimate.
I sometimes feel nervous offering different answers. That my Christmas holidays were, actually, quite relaxing with only a few get-togethers with people we wanted to see can elicit responses ranging from the quizzical to full-onslaught jealousy with an undertone of just you wait, you can’t keep that up forever, you know.
Busy is considered to be so good that even those of us who don’t believe in it can have trouble fighting against that belief. I start to see myself as irresponsible or childish if too many days pass with no claims of being busy. If I spend too much time being rather than doing.
It’s a trap I fall into over and over again, no matter how much I believe that our reason for being here on this planet, in this life is to be.
It’s a trap that I was well and truly in at the start of my inflammatory arthritis adventure and it made this past year and a half so much more miserable than it needed to be.
It’s a trap that I will, let’s face it, be in danger of falling into for the rest of my life.
But it’s a trap that is so worth whatever effort it takes to avoid.
I’m finally starting to take (admittedly guilty) pleasure in lowering my standards on what I need to accomplish in any given day or in my life as a whole.
There is so much joy to be had in a nap or a book or a Netflix marathon. Or a stolen afternoon with the one you love. Stolen, of course, from your To Do list, the obligations the doing of which make you a good person.
If I take any lesson with me from this forced inactivity, now that it seems like it might be drawing to an end, it’s the importance and the joy of being. Not having. Not doing. Being. And in all of this long time spent at home, I have had the best teacher. His name is Ruffles and he snoozes the day away, day after day, while filling my human heart with utter joy. He knows how to simply be.
There was a moment last summer, when it looked like the doctor had found the cause of my long downward slide and even better, was going to be able to help me get better. Alan and I had just finished dinner on our deck. The sun was starting to set. Ruffles had finished begging and was loafing contentedly.
And as we started to clear up, Alan gathered me into his arms for a hug. It’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, because it was absolutely perfect, despite the pain, and I thought, more of this, please. If I could be granted those occasional, perfect moments, I knew I didn’t need to have or to do anything else. I could simply be in those moments with the ones I love.
And, of course, the more you pay attention to the moments you are in, the more you realize how many of them are perfect moments. It’s the being in them that makes them so, not what you do to get there or even what they contain.
But doing creeps into being so stealthily.
When my Mum moved into the nursing home and no longer needed us to look after her, I would blithely joke that I would never have to do another good deed again. What we had done in that year with her counted for a lifetime of good deeds. And everybody I told this to agreed. Because, dude. Selling your house and moving home to look after an elderly parent really stacks up some good karma.
And I lived by that for awhile. I was still polite to strangers and kind to my friends. But I didn’t sign up for stuff. I didn’t answer the calls for volunteers that go out on a daily basis. And I mostly didn’t feel guilty about it.
But time went on and we opened a bakery. Then a friend asked if I’d like to serve on the board of our local art gallery. Ruffles needed a home. Wellspring needed a Reiki practitioner. The symphony needed a backstage assistant. And some help with their social media account. And so did the local market we participate in on Sundays. I was pretty solidly booked. I was doing like a champion.
And it’s not that I regret any of those involvements. I was happy at the time doing what I was doing. But I had also fallen into the trap of believing that all that doing made me a better person. Made me worthy of my space on this earth. When what makes any of us worthy is the fact that we are here.
I’m going to be very much more thoughtful about what I add back in as my strength returns. I will try to focus more of my attention on the being and less on the having and doing.
How about you? Are you comfortable with your balance of have/do/be? Is there something you’d like to change?