Being and Doing

gingko sidewalk2I am addicted to doing. I allow myself to just “be” once a week – on Saturday, on Shabbat, and this links me to a chain of Jewish practice that goes far back in history. I like this “time outside of time” as Abraham Joshua Heschel described Shabbat. However, I’m beginning to think that this one day is not enough. I seem to be addicted to constant activity. I think I may have learned this behavior from my family. We are not worthy unless we are being productive.

I retired almost 9 months ago. Nine months is an apt moment to be born anew. I’d like to be born anew as a person who is productive when that makes sense in my life and as a relaxed and in-the-moment person when that makes sense. My obsessive desire to always be productive is a problem for me. I am in a constant state of tension, thinking that if I am not engaged in an activity that has some use for the world, that I’m wasting my time. But doesn’t it benefit the world to “be peace” as Thich Nhat Hanh (a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist) says? If a moving butterfly’s wings have reverberations across the planet, certainly a person at peace does so as well, yes?

To know something is not enough. “Being” requires as much discipline as “doing,” when you are a compulsive doer. I write this blog to publically state my intention. I hope others will help me in this endeavor.

The first step will be to read the newspaper tomorrow morning and do the crossword puzzle as I sip coffee and eat breakfast. I’ll periodically report about my progress.

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