When I was young, I was busy working, churning through marriages, and raising my son. Who had time for hobbies? But now I’m older, and I yearn to have more fun. [Read more…]
When you go to bed at night and feel satisfied that you managed to knock off most of the things on your To Do list, do you ever think about the sum of that list?
Is it really an accomplishment? You can get going really, really fast but, at the end of the day (I hate that cliche’ but in this case I mean it literally) did it get you any closer to your goal? Do you even have a goal? Is it to get through the day, errands accomplished? Accounts settled, calls made, kitchen restocked with bread, milk, cereal – is that your life?
When you are on your deathbed, will that have been enough?
I was reading about Jonathan Franzen in Time magazine recently, and he says with life becoming busier all the time, more than ever we need to slow down and read a good book. “The place of stillness that you have to go to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world.”
The same article quotes Soren Kierkegaard and “his idea of busyness: that state of constant distraction that allows people to avoid difficult realities and maintain self-deceptions.” Is this at the heart of our To Do list? Besides making sure there’s always milk and bread, are we just staying busy so we don’t have to ask ourselves, “Did I get what I wanted? Is there still time?”
I think that movement without a goal might add up to wasted effort, time, and life. If I know where I’m going, I can evaluate whether the things I’m doing are getting me there. And if you have the kind of brain I do (fluttery and imprecise), you have to slow down from time to time and meditate. It’s hard, but it’s like exercise – I definitely see a result. My mind clarifies, and I can identify what my priorities are and whether my current activities are moving me toward completing those priorities.
And whether those priorities make sense, in view of the big picture of my mortality.
Here’s how I meditate: I force myself to STOP. I walk to the spare bedroom. Set the timer for 10-15 minutes and bury it under a pillow so it doesn’t startle me. Sit in the comfy chair, close my eyes, and let thoughts rush in and out of my head like a strong breeze – let the thoughts come. Let them go. Don’t stop them. Don’t make mental lists. Don’t conduct analyses. Don’t think.
Listen to the sounds of the house – the dishwasher clunking away, a lawnmower nearby, the gentle whisper of the ceiling fan. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, while saying one word: rest.