September 9, 2015

A Human Being versus a Human Doing.

cat house lazy

It’s pushing four in the afternoon and I’m still in my nightgown. There was no “up with the chickens” for me, but rather “up when it felt good to rise,” and still there’s no rush to change into my day attire.

I am basking in the doing nothing thing today—in just being.

So many of us are so busy with striving for success—always on the go, doing something, as busy bodies in motion—that even in times of supposed relaxation time on holidays we are still wired to be productive, to produce, achieve, get things done and “be all that we can be.”

But I find, today, that it is the art of doing nothing that truly restores my human being-ness and will make being me even more productive when I return to achievement mode.

Our society values the busy worker.

Even in the bible there is reference to idle hands as akin to sin. Some value resting as a thing one only does when sick, recovering from illness, restoring from busy times—or reserved for Sunday’s.

But what if we fully embraced ourselves as human beings, rather than “human doings,” and didn’t save these restorative times for ourselves for after we’ve reached exhaustion, exerted ourselves to the point of virtually collapsing or taxed our nervous systems from over-committing ourselves?

It seems so many of us feel that the only time we can truly relax (and deserve such depth of relaxation) is if it’s been earned somehow. But isn’t simply being a human a right, and intrinsically part of who we are?

I once asked a 105-year-old woman what her secret was to longevity. She conveyed that she only gets shoulder pain every now and then, then shared with me her secret:

“I just sit and watch people go by.”

For some this would seem boring—even sinful. But is it truly a bad thing to just sit and watch people go by? After all, there are a myriad of people always on the go, and fewer just sitting, waiting, watching and being.

I think many are afraid to stop the motion of always doing something, as if maybe life will pass them by.

Maybe because we’ve been taught that we reap what we sow—that the early bird gets the worm—we don’t want to grow stagnant or miss out on anything. Whatever the reason, isn’t the notion of just being, like the human beings that we are, equally vital to our health?

Wouldn’t it serve us more deeply to learn more from the flora and fauna around us? From the inactivity of animals—like the tortoise, our cats and dogs—or from that of trees, which move only when the wind brushes against them.

Today, I will sit wearing my nightgown well into the late afternoon, and maybe well into the night—or maybe I won’t change out of it at all today.

There is truly nowhere pressing I need to be.

I could utilize this free time by skating, riding my bike, talking a long walk in nature, visiting friends, making phone calls, addressing emails, changing my status on Facebook, cleaning house, doing laundry… but instead I call today my day of simply being, watching people pass by on my busy neighborhood street.

I’ll let them be the active ones, the ones doing as I sit being, and I will follow in the footsteps of that 105-year-old lady named Hattie, and just sit and watch people go by.

I may not live to be as old as she, but I will soak in the beauty of this moment—simply being, rather than doing.

I hope you’ll join me.


Author: Krista Katrovas

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Peter Morris/Flickr


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