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The Art of Being: reflections

October 21st, 2004 · 1 Comment

The other night when the kids went to bed, I had groceries still on the floor to put away, dishes to wash and other chores to do. I vascillated between anxiety and procrastination, pacing in the kitchen while partially finishing a task. I tried not to think of the piles of laundry upstairs still to fold. Life was a list to finish by bedtime.

As I began to unpack the bags from the store, I began to think about my thoughts. Am I doing or am I being? Can I enjoy this moment for what it is? Can I unpack these pears and feel their shape and size and smooth skin beneath my fingers? Can I be grateful for the blessing of fresh fruit to eat and for the abundance we have in our home? Do I have to rush through these tasks in my lists of accomplishments for the night? Or can I be in the moment as I am cleaning and sorting, feeling the firm smooth skin of a pear, watching the dishes turn white and clean in the water.

The Art of Being. A book I’ve been reading. But it’s not the first time I’ve thought of the contrast between being and doing.

Becoming a mother of three was probably the biggest test of my identity so far. The year Elisabeth was born was a good year for our family but a bad year for Ted’s business. Not only could I not accomplish much, busy caring for three young children, but also I could not hire anyone to help us with the work. My grandiose dreams of home and garden deluxe died. The van we had at that time was not reliable and I didn’t feel I should go anywhere unless it was necessary. I learned to be happy to have hot food on our table and a clean floor beneath our feet. Juggling the needs of three wee ones who were dependent on me for everything from dressing to dining meant I didn’t get much done. I had to learn to let go of who I thought I was. Or at least I started to learn to do so…

I still struggle with who I am versus what I do. Sometimes life seems like a big Vegas sign, a neon nag, a lit-up to-do list, a marquis I make in my mind that is constantly goading me into going. I am trapped on a treadmill, lab rat life. Other times are more mellow and I learn to relax amidst the mess of loose ends.

Reading The Art of Being became an interesting exercise in examining myself and discovering what I’ve learned. It’s a spiritual book, and as a family we are in a strange place spiritually. For years we have been busy with various commitments and communities, but now we are not. I’ve felt guilty that I’m not using gifts. I wonder whether I am growing. I don’t have a title or position or description to offer anyone, as I once did. After years of running and responsibilities, we are not doing anything. It seems strange. But after reading this book, I realized that perhaps this is where we are supposed to be right now. We are just to be.

Tags: journal

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Oct 22, 2004 at 8:58 am

    This is a great reminder in the overwhelmed state in which I find myself this week. “No time for anything” is my general mantra, which isn’t helping me much. “I’m right where God wants me” would be a much better phrase to repeat to myself. A relief, a relaxing of the shoulders and neck, a sigh of acceptance and maybe even a smile of thankfulness.