Lately, I have been practicing "being" on a whole new level in a very intentional manner. At times it's so calming and connecting, everything just feels "right". And then other times it's uncomfortable, confusing, and frustrating...sometimes it brings tears and a feeling of "offness".
One day recently, during a particularly challenging time of feeling completely unmotivated to do a single thing, even things I usually enjoy, it struck me.
I'm attached to "doing".
Not only am I attached to "doing", but I also have identified with it. And I know I'm not alone.
There's something lurking within my to-do list, that gives me satisfaction when I cross off an item. And then another. And another. I'm always looking to finish the list (it's never happened) as if I will be complete when the things I think I need to get done are crossed off.
And it's more insidious than that.
The creative things I do for enjoyment like blogging, making meditations, writing poetry or short stories...even a fairly passive activity like reading a good book have been a form of identification. So when I am not inspired to do any of these things, or check off items on my to-do list, a sense of emptiness arises...an almost desperate feeling of needing to fill the void because of how uncomfortable and "off" it feels not to be in the creative flow.
Instead of pushing it away and mindlessly attempting to cover up this uncomfortable emptiness with something that might feel good or something else to do, I have been sitting in the murky waters, exploring this reality.
I found myself sinking down into the question, "What if I never had anything to "do" again? What if I was never able to experience the things I wanted to? What if I was suddenly unable to do anything that gave me a sense of forward motion?" And I pictured myself being paralyzed, blind, deaf, and mute all at the same time. Because that would be the epitome of not being able to do anything or experience much while still in human form.
A wave of darkness and hopelessness filled me. Even fear. Fear of being nothing. Fear that everything that I thought was me would be stripped away in the void of being unable to "DO" anything. Fear of not being able to at least have the goal to achieve my dreams. Fear of not experiencing things I want to create in my life.
"What's the point of even existing if I don't have anything to do?" I asked myself. And I answered, "Are you what you do?"
"No, I am not what I do."
"Why then would it matter if you didn't have anything to do?"
Pause and meditate on that.
We have this desperate desire to feel the forward motion of doing...accomplishing...having tasks to complete, adventures to embark on, and experiences to create. The sense of doing then becomes who we are. If we don't do the things we normally do or get to experience the things we think we want, then who are we? And what point is there to living?
If the motivation to complete things and create things and do things is gone (try it sometime, I dare you) we scramble to fill the void with literally anything because we have identified ourselves in the "doing" of things, thinking that we will cease to exist if we don't and have no idea what it means to just "be".
We think that in completing, creating, and doing we have some kind of purpose and meaning. We rely on these things to give us a sense of self. We don't know who or what we actually are and the reality of that is terrifying and depressing and we would rather not think about it.
As a protective measure throughout our whole life, the ego has caused us to become attached and identified with accomplishing things and having desired experiences as a way to find self-worth.
Wherever we learned it from, I dare say all of us, suffer from the NOT-GOOD-ENOUGH syndrome. Abusive parents, bullies from school, bad relationships, religion, culture...it doesn't matter...we were taught that if we don't measure up to the ever-moving and changing ideals we are bad, sinful, unworthy, and not good enough.
Ego, wanting to shield us from the harsh emotions associated with those experiences got us involved and distracted with as many things to do as possible. Even so-called lazy people or those with addictions who to the majority don't seem to be doing much of anything, are still identified with "doing".
Without movies to watch, gambling to do, shopping for things, video games to play, alcohol to consume, or drugs to take...who would they be without "doing" that?
Some people when they retire, even from a job they hate, become depressed and start deteriorating physically. They have identified themselves with their job for so long, that when it ends, they don't know who they are.
Parents whose children leave home to start a new life, often go through a sense of losing themself because for so long they felt that who they were was a parent. Once that "doing" portion of their life is missing, they may feel lost or empty, so they try to find something else to get busy with in order to satiate the hunger for truly understanding who they are.
This is not to say that the things we do, want to do, or want to have are bad. Absolutely not. Human life is meant to be experienced, to be lived, to be felt. All the range of emotions and limits we push are wonderful things.
The problem arises when we think that those things are who we are. Through life, the things that we do and want to do change. As children, we used to play with dolls and blocks, and noisy toys. Were those things that we did who we are? Now that we are not doing those things anymore, did we lose a part of ourselves?
Life is always changing...jobs, people, situations, houses, vehicles...when they change and we no longer have those things or do those things, do we lose a piece of who we are? When we reach an advanced age and are not doing what we did, have we lost ourselves? Do we not exist? Do we suddenly become "nothing"?
Or is who we are something that can't be defined by what we do?
I can't tell you who you are without the "doing" that you do.
I'm not even sure there are words to describe who we are without the "doing". It's not something that can be explained or even pointed to. Knowing who we are without the "doing" is a journey we all must take alone. A journey prompted by inquiry.
The next time you feel uncomfortable because you don't have anything to do...if you are bored...if you are unmotivated...ask yourself these questions?
Is this thing I am doing or want to do, me?
If it is not me, who am I?
What am I without my hobbies, my interests, and my experiences?
Who am I without this temporary body that I inhabit?
You will only find the answers to these questions by going within.