I’ve always judged my days by how much I accomplished during each one—with more being better, of course. I always loved it when I got up early and checked off five or six things on my to-do list before lunch.
It made me feel alive, useful, and productive.
I also took pride in being someone who could get things done. My friends talked about doing things, and often started projects, but I didn’t just start them. I finished them.
As I gain more insight through meditation, pausing to see the workings of my mind, I realize how much value I assign to accomplishing things—to simply completing tasks.
I’ve always known how to do, but not how to be.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with getting stuff done. There are times in our lives—as working parents of young children, for example—when it is vital to get things done in a timely and routine manner.
But when our self-worth depends on accomplishment, we play a dangerous game that is bound to end up in disappointment.
Who am I without my accomplishments?
I have to pause, to breathe, and listen in order to find that out. In the silence of awareness, I feel my unease with being--my desire to do.
Awareness is the first step.
I am aware, for example, that I tend to fill my empty moments with games of Scramble or Ruzzle on my iPhone instead of sitting quietly.
I am aware that my mind spends most of our meditation time planning, problem solving and reminiscing.
I am also aware that nature helps me to be in touch with quiet being. Sitting on the bench in front of the pond at Sapsucker Woods—the Lab of Ornithology’s bird sanctuary—helps me to still the flow of thought.
I open my eyes.
I breathe the air.
I hear the sounds of bullfrogs, peepers, birds and branches swaying in the wind.
For a moment, I am not my mind.
I sit without a resume, just being.