Have you ever had a snippet of a song run through your mind? I think that most of us have at one time or another. For me, lately, it’s been the beginning of ‘Singing in the Rain’ – Do, be, do, do, do, be, do, be, do, do, be, do, be…
And that got me thinking that that brief intro is really good advice for living life: that we should BE and not DO life.
So many of us live our lives ‘doing’ living. We strive to live the roles that we have in life – child, student, spouse, parent, teacher, minister, counsellor and on it goes. The roles that we live out are numerous. We do what we believe is expected of us in these roles. And we change what we do depending upon which role we are fulfilling at any given time in our lives. We dress to meet perceived expectations; we speak to meet these expectations; we order our time to meet these expectations; we strive to achieve those things which we think will show that we are successful at ‘doing’ whatever it is that we are doing.
We get so caught up in the doing to the point where we don’t even question why we are doing what we do. We end up running sort of like hamsters in a cage trying to catch up with everyone else. We judge our success in relation to everyone else. We measure our worth in things to own, stuff to cart around, titles given, credentials listed after our names. We end up believing that if we have all those external things, we will know that we are alive and that we have value and worth and are important to our world.
And in ‘doing’ life, we end up constantly on the move from one task to another, one role to another seeking to fill up time. That way, at the end of each day, we can look back at what we’ve done for that day and feel like we’ve accomplished something of substance and matter. In ‘doing’ life, we become uncomfortable with what feels like inaction and slowing down. We get impatient with those things and people which we feel get in our way of just ‘getting’er done’. And we become uncomfortable with silence. Having sound around us gives us the sense that we are connected with others in a meaningful way. The sounds and organized noise with which we surround ourselves occupy our minds so that we can ignore our own thoughts and questions. We don’t have to ‘be’ with ourselves when we fill our minds with acoustic clutter.
Have you ever tried to sit in silence for five minutes? For even one minute? I sometimes, but rarely, used this as a strategy to settle my students down when they were noisy. If they were, as a class, silent for 60 seconds, then they would be ‘rewarded’ [usually with being dismissed from class a few minutes before the end of period bell]. The condition was that if anyone talked at all, then the 60 seconds would start over again. It was virtually impossible for my students to sit and be silent for one minute. What my students told me was that the time seemed intolerably long and that they were very uncomfortable with silence. To them, it felt foreign – not what they were used to at all.
As I’ve been decluttering my life of things this year, I’ve come to understand that, for most of my time here on earth, I have been ‘doing’ living. I have not simply ‘been’. And I have definitely not been with myself. That has felt uncomfortable and edgy and strange.
So, consider this for yourself. What would your life be like, feel like, look like if you took the time to truly ‘be’ with yourself and to divest yourself of the noise and hurry and screeching around? What would your life be like, feel like, look like if you took the time to consider living as ‘being’ and not ‘doing’. And as you consider that, I can guarantee that your life will change.
As the old commercial advised: “Try it. You’ll like it.”