Enforced sloth for over a week now has me questioning both “work-life balance” (what??) and William Blake’s great question, “Enough! or Too Much” *.
As I observe the flow of my energy I’m aware of the relative nature of time. Absorbed in painting, removing a wall or cleaning a newly discovered bird skull I take no notice of clock time. I’m engaged until I’ve had enough — minutes or hours, it makes no difference. I’ve simply arrived at an endpoint to that activity for the moment whether it is finished or not. If I feel tired it’s a pleasant weariness like a deep sigh or the release of a primal breath, markedly different than the wrung-out exhaustion of forging ahead at all costs.
I have a luxury that my commuter neighbors and friends do not. I can work, wake, sleep, eat, do laundry and walk in the woods as I please. Why, then, do I feel I must get to work by a certain time, work a certain number of hours (at least) and accomplish X number of things to feel productive, a Fine Upstanding Member of Society? Do I feel guilty that I can come and go as I please and they can’t? Is this some perverse form of empathy, to push on just a little further.
I’m thinking of conducting an experiment as I enter 2015. I will follow my energy, waking, working, eating and sleeping when I feel called to. I will listen more carefully to Yin and let Yang follow instead of engaging in my deeply rutted habit of pushing no matter what. (Tired? Push on a little further.) Why not stop, rest and refresh a bit instead?
Listening in to myself does not come easily, and as I lean in to this experiment I notice little fears bubbling up. What if I never accomplish another thing? What if I become a bag lady? What if, what if, what if.... Probing beneath those I find other little treasures about how my worth as a person is measured: by Doing or by Being? It’s uncomfortable in there. No wonder I’d rather stay busy earning external affirmations of my value!
January’s cold is the perfect time to undertake this experiment. The trees’ skeletons surround me as visual reminders of Being without Trying as they respond to wind and weather with unadorned clarity. They grow, leaf out, shed branches, drop leaves, provide habitat and die, each in their own time with no extraneous internal noise of ego or self-criticism. Sycamore, oak, cherry, walnut, and beech — no one tells the other how and when to grow. They don’t even have metrics.
and may it include some of your heart’s desires.