Being or doing?

I read an article today about ‘freizeit stress’ – ‘free time stress’: the analysis paralysis which sets in when you can’t decide how to make the best use of your free time. Then there’s ‘leisure sickness’ – the sore throat that comes on the day after you go on annual leave, or the Saturday morning headache (not the kind you get after a heavy Friday night!).

It seems we tie ourselves in knots about always doing stuff, keeping busy, even to the extent that the things we might do ostensibly for fun become another kind of work, whether that’s going to the gym, learning another language, or making cupcakes for a friend’s party.

I catch myself thinking how much I’d like to read another chapter of my current book or spend my lunch-hour mooching around the shops – and then almost as soon as that thought is in my head – I come up with a list of worthy things I should be doing instead. I’m not suggesting we shirk our obligations – I mean those things on our own mental lists which don’t actually need to be done right now but we really think we should do.

Are we human beings or human doings_

I once read a poem (I can’t find the writer’s name, but if anyone knows it, I’d be delighted to credit him/her) which included the lines

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
music to hear and books to read,
friends to cherish and life to lead.

And WH Davies ends his poem, ‘Leisure’,

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Aren’t we human beings, not human doings?

Today’s pebble for you to contemplate: 

What will you do this week to take some time out and just be?

Any thoughts?

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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4 Responses to Being or doing?

  1. Deb says:

    Hello – what a great blog you have. Well done you for setting it up and keeping it going.

    I do a lot of this, as I’m sure you’ve gathered. When I was recovering from hurting my back and wasn’t getting on with getting a job or in fact doing anything, a letter from a friend, who’d left a marketing career at Unilever to marry a vicar and do wonderful things in the community, really made a difference to how I felt about what I saw as a stagnant time. She commented that there was nothing wrong with ‘being’, nothing wrong with loving spending time with my parents, even if it did look a little weird to the rest of the world. It’s easy to forget that most of the things expected from you are expectations you set yourself. There are no ironing police to prevent you from looking at how green the trees are.

    If it’s fine tomorrow, I’ll be lying on a blanket on the lawn (well, moss), perhaps accompanied by a cat or two. It’s a good way to be.

  2. Fi says:

    This really struck a cord. Work often means that weekends are packed catching-up with different but still demanding activities. Whether that’s “must-do” jobs around the house, baking that cake with my eldest daughter or spending time with important people in my life; these things still emanate from the pressure I put on myself to be a good wife, a good mother and a good friend. In a world dominated by community and connectivity, I’ve realised that I actually crave time just to be alone, just to day-dream, just to catch my breath.

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