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Doing vs Being

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Walking onto the back porch before the sun has made its way over the roofline and the dew is still glistening on the grass, has a way of instantly relaxing the built up tension in my shoulders from a restless night. As I drop into a corner chair with coffee in hand, a huge sigh releases. A welcome feeling of gratitude emerges as I recognize the gift of the next few minutes I’ll spend quietly reflecting, sipping the perfect cup of coffee, listening to the birds chattering away, and taking stock of how blessed I truly am.

It’s easy to get lazy when life becomes busy. The busier I am, the lazier I get. The more productive I am at doing life, the less energy I put into being alive. It’s easy to believe I have no choice. I have obligations, responsibilities, people depending on me.

  “If it were only me, I’d do things differently. I would eat healthier, exercise regularly, go to sleep earlier, read more books, write everyday…”

It’s easy to convince myself that this is my reality when in truth, reality is what we create for ourselves. Each day I make a choice as to how I spend my time and energy, how I direct my thoughts, and how I feel about what I am doing. It’s easier to “do life” than to truly “be alive.”

What does “doing life” look like? It looks busy, stressed, hectic, productive, important. It looks like long To Do Lists with a lot of check marks, a calendar with no empty space, and a day that zooms by without conscious attention to exactly what is taking place. It looks like events to plan, clients to serve, family to care for, parties to attend, causes to champion, letters to write, phone calls to make, houses to clean, and no time for reflection, gratitude, or rest.

We convince ourselves that our purpose in life is “doing” and the more “doing” we accomplish, the more successful we are. We believe doers are the strongest and most successful in life but this is simply an idea we choose to believe. In reality, doers are lazy. Those who are busy doing are afraid of being. To do is easy. We can be taught to do most anything and if not, we can find someone to help us. Most doing takes little conscious thought. We perform tasks robotically, efficiently, and routinely. Systematically, checking the boxes on our to do lists. Driving the same route to work each day oblivious to our surroundings. Doing can be exhausting but doing does not require strength and it does not equal success. Doers avoid the hard work by staying busy with the mundane.

Being alive is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. Being takes courage. Only the strong are able to sit in the quiet, to look inward at the darkness and see throughto the light. It isn’t easy to consistently make conscious choices, to listen to intuition and ask ourselves the Why before planning the How. To trust that fulfilling life’s purpose is tied to something greater than ourselves and to allow intuition to lead us on the path to fulfillment is hard. It can be scary and extremely uncomfortable. It’s much easier to fill our time with work and obligations, all the while believing we have no choice.

This morning I realize I’ve recently fallen back into the trap of “no choice” and it isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, this is a fairly solid pattern I’ve created. Over the past six or so years, I’ll dive deep into the area of self-discovery for a period of time. Doing the hard work, I’ll connect with inner intuition, glimpse life purpose, and taste my true passion. Coming out of the experience, I’m energized and determined, feeling I know what I’m here to do and excited for the journey ahead only to be distracted by the busyness of life shortly thereafter. Often I’ll beat myself up for falling into the trap of doing yet again.

  “What’s wrong with me? I know better. Why can’t I do better?”

But trying to do better is exactly the problem. Life isn’t about doing and the harder I try to do, the further I am from actually living. Life is about allowing, letting go of expectation and trusting the Divine path that is set before us. We are all part of a universal stream of energy that flows swiftly and effortlessly toward our life’s purpose. Being aware of this energy and trusting our place within it is all that is required in order to participate in the abundance that life has to offer.

Imagine this stream of energy like a river with each of us in our own little canoe. If we are so busy paddling our canoe that we don’t take the time to notice the direction of the river’s flow, we might spend our lives paddling furiously upstream, never making any real progress. But, if we pick up our paddles and sit quietly long enough to become aware of the flow of the water, we soon feel our canoe floating along swiftly in the flow of universal energy. Life isn’t meant to be a struggle but picking up our paddles can be scary. It means giving up what we see as control and letting go of the belief that busy equals success. It means trusting in something greater than ourselves. This takes courage and it takes strength. It takes forgiving ourselves when we get scared and start paddling furiously again. It takes the courage to pick the paddles back up and to sit quietly. It takes the occasional gift of a morning on the porch with a perfect cup of coffee.

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