Are we really OK not Doing?
So I’ve finished a couple big home restoration projects and I have a couple smaller ones I’m now working on. What I’m finding fascinating is the subtle anxiousness I can feel when I don’t have much work to do in a day? To just sit and read a book or write or watch life go by was the light at the end of tunnel I’d been so looking forward while in the midst of bigger projects. Yet, now I’m here, with less I need to do, and I notice I can feel a bit uneasy.
When I look more closely at the streams of thought in the background there seems an old mindset that says my meaning is tied to my work and how much I’m doing. And maybe also how much money I’m bringing in? I think this is a combination of we Americans celebration of hard work and my Protestant work ethic upbringing. Both of which tie self worth to work. Even as I write this, to contemplate being at ease with doing nothing, even for just a little while, seems heretical.
Isn’t this why we have vacations, the one time we can give ourselves permission to not be working? Where we can put our worker be mindsets to one side and appease those doing voices by reminding them they will be back behind the steering wheel in a week or two? And even vacations seem to now have a lot more doing, so there is rarely a respite. To me it can feel like inner oppression, a sense that I can never really ‘do’ enough…
Then the big relief comes when I remember that these thoughts are nothing more than thoughts. They aren’t ultimate truth. When I can remember that my well being isn’t tied to how much or little I do in any moment, I can laugh at the worker bee inner movie I’ve been caught up in and recognize it for the fiction it is. I can get a kick out of the ‘doing’ story when I understand it’s just a story. Then I tend to notice that the times I feel best from day to day haven’t been tied to doing but to pausing and savoring some slice of life I’m experiencing in the moment. Like sitting back on our sweet wrap around porch on a lovely summers day musing and writing these reflections, right now. A rather yummy and very satisfying moment.