We all know that to accomplish anything, at some point, we have to act. In fact, in western culture, this is so internalized, that people often spend their days racing from one thing to another, always doing, doing, doing. As we age, many of us feel even more pressure to beat the clock. In fact, this is a positive Voice of Aging speaking to us, the rush to meet our mortality having accomplished what we’ve set out to do . . . to see our visionary seed for the future budding, even flowering, before it’s too late.
Yet this impulse has a potential downside. Sometimes in our rush to do, we don’t stop long enough to just be, to truly figure out what matters and whether the actions we are taking will lead us toward our vision—whether the actions themselves are meaningful.
Consider the plight of many retirees, who suddenly lose their sense of self when they are no longer working. They are advised to keep busy, to do, but for many, this isn’t enough. Part of the problem is how they define who they are, but part of the problem is that just doing for the sake of doing is hollow. Doing is intended to be a means to an end, but at all ages in this culture, it too often becomes an end in itself.
Of course, taking action is essential to creating the future we envision, but ideally every action we take should be meaningful and completely in sync with our inner visionary voice. This isn’t possible if we don’t take the time to just be so we can center ourselves and listen to that voice without distraction. By taking time to be still, we can become more in tune with the flow of our lives, other people, and the world, and through this, we can develop the deep knowing we need to inform our next steps. With this knowing, the steps we take will leave a lasting imprint for generations to come. As Frank Sinatra sang, “Do be do be do.” 🙂
What can you do to incorporate time to just be in your everyday life and work?