I've just taken almost three months off my EJP project.
Initially, my plan was to just be away for a few weeks, while I was visiting my parents in Europe. And even during this trip I had a huge list of things I wanted to do. Make graphic changes to the website design, come up with new photos from a more Alpine or Mediterranean environment, write a blog post or two… There’s always plenty to do, right?
Well, what I realized was that I just wanted to take a break. A real break. A total break. Not doing anything on my website, or anything else for that matter. But just be. Just wake up in the morning and go through my day without that never ending feeling that “I've got to do something”.
One thing that became really apparent to me was that I had very strong conditioning to always need to “be productive”. Often I felt quite guilty to just be in the state of “being”.
Well, this is what our society tells us from very early on. Perhaps we get four or five years of early childhood when we can just be happy and play, but after that it becomes all about “doing”. And it seems to be getting worse in recent years. Some kids nowadays start pre-school at the age of two !
It is the “doing” that this society values, not the “being”. Show me the results! Being happy and enjoying life? Well where’s the value in that? If you can’t sell it, it doesn’t exist.
I don’t mean to deny the necessity of doing stuff. We all need to eat, drink, have shelter, and a bunch of other things. And someone needs to take care of all that, of course. If all I do is “be happy” and let other people do the necessary work, I’m obviously taking advantage of them. So, some “doing” is surely needed.
But we have forgotten that the purpose of any “doing” is so that later we can afford “being”. These two go hand in hand, and it is in periods of rest and non-doing that we can get clarity on where exactly we are in the big picture and where we want to go next. It is in the “being” mode that we nurture our creative potential and get perspective and vision.
Looking at the world today, what I see is people so lost in their “doing” that they never even stop to see that they are actually moving closer and closer to the cliff. Most of what we as a society “do” is not only unnecessary but it's actually harmful to the planet as a whole. And yet we never slow down, never look back. Don’t have time for that, gotta work !
Maybe we don't need to be “more productive”. Maybe we should “do” less and “be” more. And when we are in the “doing” mode, let's make sure that we're actually doing things that benefit the whole.