For all of My Life, I hid behind my superb organizational and multitasking skills. I could juggle All. The. Things. and rarely missed a beat. Staying on top of everything in my world was my most deeply rooted coping mechanism. One I developed shortly after the death of my mother when I was a kid.
If I could just keep organized enough, stay busy enough — I could keep control of My Life. And perhaps, hopefully — nothing bad would ever happen to me again. I just had to DO enough and everything from this day forward would work out just swell.
And it did work for a while. Until my daughter got sick and needed a liver transplant. I would sit for hours every day in my rocking chair — the same one my father gave me when she was born. The same rocking chair I had used to rock and soothe both of my daughters. That rocking chair. And I would pray. Novenas and rosaries — by the boatload.
The Universe’s answer was to show us — All. Of. Us. over and over again that we were not in control of a damn thing. She picked us up and plopped us down hundreds of miles away from our home for my daughter’s healthcare. We left a household full of pets behind us for friends to take care of. We lived as Alice in Wonderland with scant contact from the Reality we left behind. We got schooled in just Being with our Now. And there wasn’t thing one any of us could DO about it.
You would have thought that my daughter’s medical crisis would have been enough. But it wasn’t. So easily we all slipped back into our lives. Grateful for the opportunity to go back to Doing. I would get reminded over and over again in the ensuing years that Being wasn’t my strong suit. Doing was my comfort zone.
During my separation/divorce and to cope with the stress of My Life at the time, I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran until one of my knees let me know that “WE” would not be Doing that anymore. Go try something else! And just like that — The Universe swept meditation into My Life. For to unlearn Doing and replace it with Being.
Stubborn woman that I was (am) — I still found comfort in a jam-packed schedule. Granted it now included yoga and meditation — but I was also working and playing hard. I was in constant motion. Constant.
Then one day — a co-worker died. She had been battling leukemia for several months and we were all waiting for her to go into remission so we could volunteer our bone marrow. But she never got there — she never qualified for a bone marrow transplant. We were awash in grief.
That day I went home and cried buckets.
Chinese medicine tells us grief lives in our chest — and that night I released grief. All. The. Grief. for my co-worker, for the death of my mother, for the pain I couldn’t protect my children from, and for the end of my marriage.
A few minutes into this cry, I had one of the most severe asthma attacks I ever experienced. Followed by a case of bronchitis that sat me on my ass, on my couch, for weeks.
Over the years — The Universe has gotten my attention with the tightening of my chest and the wheezing of my breath. I have spent weeks literally sitting on my couch — just breathing. Learning to BE with my breath, My Life. Not able to DO a damn thing. Some days even feeding myself was just too much effort.
As I recover from a milder asthma exacerbation this spring, I know I am better than I used to be at Being. I listen to my body and my intuition easier and allow myself space and peace. My calendar is damn near empty these days between retirement and COVID.
Busyness does not protect us from harm. It’s a subtle form of denial. It’s an insidious part of Western society. He who is busiest — wins. At least that’s what we’re taught to believe. Humans who aren’t busy — do not serve the greater good of society.
It has taken six decades of My Life to finally realize what a load of crap that is.
This is the least busy I have ever been in my adult life and I have to tell you — I couldn’t be happier. My days all have that first-day-of-summer-vacation-vibe. Remember that? When you were released from school and time stretched out before you and never seemed to end.
That’s what it feels like when you unlearn Doing and replace it with Being.
“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” — Blaise Pascal