It occurred to me this morning, over a frothy latte and in the window’s sun, that we have a choice: we can either be or we can do.
For some reason, I have been operating under the impression that everything we do is so that we can reach a point where we can finally just be – without schedules and obligations and responsibilities. Somehow, because I so enjoy those rare moments of total freedom, I have approached every other facet of my life as if it is something to be done so that I can finally have more of moments with nothing to do.
But it occurs to me now – as the cup cools around my palm and the blanket slips from my knee – that maybe that’s just not the point. Maybe we maintain those moments and make time for them, so that we can ultimately do more, not less. Maybe I’ve had the orders reversed, and we be (however infrequently) as means to effective in what we do. Instances of tranquility sustain us and fulfill us and relax us and that enables us to be more efficacious in every other capacity.
What would that life look like? A life in which I ran in the morning because it would make me better at everything else I had to do that day and not because it was the single stolen moment just for me. A life in which I break for an afternoon walk, or nap, or read so that I can be more effective at everything I tackle before or after.
Until now, I’ve been rushing through everything else with a strange sense of survival; like life has been a test of endurance. Spread yourself thin enough and someday you’ll have built a life in which you can just contently be. I think I was wrong. And I think somehow I’ve always known it, but I’ve never been able to articulate it until now. Now I realize that we only get so many days, so many hours to make something happen here. Something beautiful, and tangible, and real. Something that changes this universe for the better. I’ve understood that we’ve always had that opportunity, but now I realize that the more tenaciously we tackle that objective the more fulfilled we will be. Because life isn’t about the books read. Or the trails hiked. It’s not about the hammocks napped in or the fires lit. Quite the contrary, each of those is a means to balance and balance is a means to productivity. And life is about productivity. It’s about acting and changing and doing. It’s about shaping your corner of the world. About changing a life, building a community, raising a child and leaving things a little better than we found them. And maybe that does require fewer hours of sleep. And that’s not a sacrifice to be made but an opportunity to be had. Think of what I could do! But maybe it also requires a rocking chair rendezvous and a sunshine picnic from which to source inspiration and perspective and balance.
The cups of tea, the conversations, they are fuel for a fire of productivity. They are vital to my wellbeing, but they are not the end goal. That would be a life of passivity and placidity. I want a life of thrilling adventure and intense action. So today, I do.