I feel guilty when I sit still. I feel like I have to be reading, writing, grading, learning, viewing, . . . picking my nails, anything. I envy Tim’s ability to relax. He and Watson are peas in a pod after I get back from a run with that dog. They can both just sit – Tim reads and Watson pants. Meanwhile, I putz. I’m sure my intermittent commentary drives Tim crazy, but he tolerates it calmly. He stays in his groove while I ruminate and roam. In the June edition of Mindful magazine, Christine Carter’s article “Relax into your Sweet Spot” exposes the dangers of this mindless busyness. Carter argues that finding a balance is more than coordinating your calendar. It’s about taking joy in doing nothing, in resting, in imagining.
As a compulsive doer, the concept of just sitting is hard for me to grasp – unless I’m on the beach with friends, but there I visit, story tell, and laugh. At home, I feel guilty if I’m not cleaning, organizing, eliminating, and donating. I actually daydream about getting rid of stuff. At work, programs, meetings, class preparation, student interaction, policy review, grading, networking, advocating, and scheduling consume my day, not to mention using technology tools and trying desperately keep up with them.
Carter argues that we need to be content with stillness. Believe me, I love a good shavasana in yoga, but that’s only because an instructor has relentlessly stretched every guitar string, I mean hamstring in my legs. Ping! Breathing is supposed to help, but I find I’m too busy marveling at the detox sweat pouring down my legs.
So why the constant need to do something, to accomplish, to produce, to satisfy, to tick an item of a list? I wonder if it’s because I fear the stillness of not moving. The rhythm of movement in a run or in the lap pool gives me a sense of peace.
Yesterday at mass, I sat across from a boy who had been in a tragic bike accident while at Purdue. He sat serenely in his wheelchair, and I noticed that he can now move his head from left to right, a seemingly impossible feat six months ago. I prayed for a miracle for him to be able to move his legs. And I also thanked God for the still moment that enabled me to feel intense compassion and love for this young man and his parents.
I’m going to try to take Carter’s advice in finding my sweet spot. I’m going to sit outside and watch the breeze. But first I have to finish this post and switch a load of laundry.