Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Just DON’T Do It

Like me, you’ve probably had lots of conversations in recent weeks about how we are all coping with this sudden shift in our day to day lives. We’ve gotten through the initial shock and disbelief, and now we are settling into management systems, which necessarily remain fluid and responsive to changing information.

There are undeniable challenges and tragedies. And at the same time, I’m hearing some folks talk about “sweet surprises,” as one person called it. Time to spend with family, read a book, work in the garden, take a walk, call a friend. Another person spoke of opportunities, a chance to slow down, contemplate the deep questions, engage more fully in a spiritual practice, a chance to stop doing and just be.

Some people embrace these opportunities; others resist them. I have spoken with a few people who have the freedom right now to take advantage of these opportunities to step out of their usual hustle bustle, but they seem unable to, offering numerous justifications for why they must carry on, even if they are overwhelmed.

So that got me thinking. What are we afraid of? What is so scary about empty space, time to do nothing? Where does the demand come from to, as one person says, “soldier on”? What do we think would happen if we just stopped? Really stopped.

Circumstances have stopped a lot of external things for us. Yet many of us have continued on at the same speed internally. What lurks in the shadows of stillness that is so threatening?

This is not about what we should or shouldn’t do. This is about a chance to be curious, to see ourselves and our lives in a different way. To question our basic assumptions, to reveal our hidden expectations, to explore who we are when we are not what we do.

Perhaps our inquiry starts with a gentle awareness of our resistance, our anxiety, our grief. If we accept ourselves and whatever our experience is with honesty and compassion, we might discover some sweet surprises. We might even allow ourselves to enjoy them.

Let us accept truth, even when it surprises us and alters our views.  ~George Sand

It’s that element of surprise. When you lose control, you discover new things.  ~Daniel Lanois

12 thoughts on “Just DON’T Do It”

  1. Sadly, I think a lot of people turn outward to escape looking at the inward. A lot of people, I've noticed, who sublimate feelings into politics are amongst the leaders in the "lift the quarantine" cries- and I rarely see justification that can't be traced to simple selfishness.

  2. I agree, CW, that many of us seem to be unable to step back and look at the deeper aspects of what is happening. It seems that those gripped by fear are becoming more entrenched in us/them polarization. Can we hold everyone, without exception, including ourselves, in our hearts with compassion? That is the only way through any of these challenges.

  3. These times certainly invite us to reassess who we are and what we are "doing." I'm embracing these moments of silence and solitude, trusting in God more than ever before. Praying that others will learn through this experience that it is okay to not do, but to simply be. Great reflection, Galen!

  4. Right now, I have food. Right now, I am healthy. Right now, I have a place to live. Right now, I feel loved and can love. All the time, I am aware of those who are hungry, sick, homeless and feel unloved. Some days are diamond. some days, not so much.

  5. Thanks, Martha. I've been rereading "The Practice of the Presence of God," by Brother Lawrence. If you are not familiar with it, you might enjoy checking it out.

  6. I appreciate your emphasis on "right now," Mona. So much of our fear and anxiety comes from the stories we tell ourselves about what might happen. We can ground ourselves in the present through a "right now" check in, as you modeled here. And always, a mix of gratitude with compassion, as you also model. And a realistic acknowledgment that some days are better than others. Thank you.

  7. I have gone through many different stages in coming to grips with how much my life has changed in the last two months. First I didn't want to accept it, but then I lost one activity after another, and now I am down to two Zoom yoga classes a week. I find myself constantly losing track of days, but now I am finally in a state of acceptance. I love the wonderful online friends who keep me thinking, like you. Thank you, Galen. 🙂

  8. A state of acceptance — that is a good place to be, DJan. Like your Zoom yoga classes, I'm down to two Zoom tai chi classes a week. It's not the same, but I still enjoy what the teacher has to offer. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I loved the quotes and I really enjoyed reading this one. I do think this is such an opportunity to slow down and think through our lives and enjoy the moments. I'm see such good things coming from this all. Thanks for your enlightening thoughts today.
    Sending loving thoughts your way!

  10. A very timely post, Galen! I feel as if people are becoming restless. They may have paused to contemplate, but not deeply, not really. I've got the feeling that the lockdown is going to become'leaky, that social distancing is going to be done with far less care, despite the high numbers of casualties of this virus. And the sports lot want to get back into it! And so I've made some fabric masks with filters pockets and ties, and have posted one each to my mum and sis. And that was after painting the kitchen, a big job, and before that there was something else – you get the picture. Now that my job list eased today I was looking forward to some 'just being', but hubby is surging on with more jobs, and I ended up painting an outdoor table. So I am asking myself, when do I stop? When do we stop. As you say, stop 'to explore who we are when we are not what we do'. So now it's time to breathe, in, breath out, and just be and do a bit of that! Cheers, Galen :>)

  11. A leaky lockdown. Yes, I see it happening here already. Social gatherings justified by saying it's "just" family or close friends.

    A lot of home projects being done. You are busy. It seems to me that there are two mindsets about that — some folks are enjoying the opportunity to get some things done around the house that have been put off for ages, while others are compelled to stay busy to avoid facing the emptiness of doing nothing. So if we are getting some home projects done, can we do them mindfully? Fully present and centered in the activity? Taking some breaks to just breathe and be? If we live with someone else, can we each find our own rhythm? Just some things to think about….

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