Doing vs. Being
tom walsh


I've been reading a lot lately about the idea of being versus doing, the concept that we can get so caught up in the things that we have to do that we stop simply being, that we stop growing and changing as human beings.  Yes, we learn more information and we learn more ways to do things and we learn more strategies for success in material ways and at work, but what do we learn about who we are and how we fit in on this planet?  What do we learn about our relationship to God and life and love, and how do we grow as the spiritual beings that we are?

I believe that we get caught up in this trap because doing is so much easier.  We can quantify what we do--the results are right there to see and count and judge.  We can count how many sales we've made, we can measure how much of the yard we've landscaped, and we can count the number of times that we've driven to the store.  We can also see the results of not doing, such as the dishes on the kitchen counter, the full "to-do" list of things that still need to be done, or the bed that hasn't been made or the clothes that haven't been washed.  There's a lot of value in doing, of course, for doing allows us to keep things clean and to take care of problems, often before they even come up.

But there has to be time for being in there, also.  "Being" doesn't consist of sitting in front of a screen, be it television, computer, games, of movie, for that is a form of passive consumerism, taking in something that someone else has done.  And while this can be valuable for unwinding after a long and stressful day, it still isn't a way of being.

It's hard for me to define "being" as I'm using the term here.  No one has taught me what it means, though I have read many books that address the idea.  It seems that being is getting in touch with that deeper part of ourselves, that inner power that many people call "spirit," that many others call "God."  I'm not sure what I'd call it, but I do know that I don't let it out nearly enough, and my outward behavior and actions aren't guided nearly often enough by its power.  this is the part of me that can help me define who I am in this world, as opposed to what I do in this world, yet I keep it under wraps, buried beneath all of the activities and tasks and chores that keep me running seemingly all the days of my life.

Finding the time to nurture this part of me--even to find it--is very difficult.  Time for prayer and reflection are hard to come by, especially since I seem to have been conditioned throughout my life to do things, to search out accomplishments, for they are what I'll be judged on by others (or so I've been led to believe).

But have you ever met one of those people who are calm and peaceful and loving and caring?  They seem to have a radiance that the rest of us would love to have, and it's a result of their being able to get in touch with who they are rather than what they do.  These tend to be people who are more interested in working at being more caring, more compassionate, and more loving rather that filling their time with more things to do.  These are the people you would love to talk to, for they've learned to see life with clarity and to listen without judgment, as opposed to the people who always have suggestions for what you should do to make things better.  These are the people that I personally would like to emulate, for that peace of mind and peace of spirit will go much further towards making me a happy, fulfilled person than any accomplishments can.  After all, when we accomplish something, our next thought tends to be "what next?"  When we find peace of heart and peace of mind, we also find that "what next?" doesn't really matter.  It will come of its own accord.

I believe things are getting worse rather than better, for I see the way many kids are being raised these days.  Between soccer and football and little league and choir and homework and skiing and all of the many, many tasks that are part of their lives, they are much, much busier doing things than members of my generation were as kids.  Children these days often have very little time for playing, for having fun, for just being kids, and that's both sad and frightening.  As they grow up, they can't help but develop a nagging sense of having missed something very important.

Where is your focus--on "being" or on "doing"?  Both are very important, but they must be maintained in a careful balance.  If we go too far over on the doing side, we're definitely risking missing one of the most important aspects of who we are, and we're risking never getting in touch with that deeper part of ourselves that can bring us fulfillment and peace.  When we ask ourselves why we're here on this planet, I'm pretty sure that the answer is closer to "finding out who I am" than it is "accomplishing more things than my neighbor."


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