We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time. But that is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the world needs most. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
In my last post I wrote that life is about striving. It is. We strive to survive, to better ourselves. We strive toward a future self and life in which everything will be as it should be and we won’t have to strive any more.
Yet, paradoxically, life is also about being. Being present to now and the next moment and the next—without dwelling on the past, bemoaning our current situation, or yearning for a better future. Just being…until it’s time for doing.
So which one is it? Aren’t striving and being opposites, either one or the other?
Yes and no. We can strive and we can be, but there’s no need to separate them because they’re the ebb and flow of life. You can’t do one without eventually doing the other. We switch back and forth all the time, and often we do both at the same time.
But in today’s world, doing, especially active, observable doing, is the favored prince; while being, especially if we appear to not be doing anything in particular, is the orphaned stepdaughter. Doing is associated with productivity, accomplishment, and making good use of time. Being is associated with passivity, lethargy, lack of motivation, and wasted time.
Essentially, spirited doing and striving is the heroic way of individuation. We are made to want to discover and become who we truly are. We want to learn, understand ourselves, set goals, accomplish things, acquire power, achieve success, whatever our definition of success may be. And that’s a very good thing. In fact, striving is how we grow and mature, physically, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. It’s essential to our lives, especially during the first half. But obsessive striving burns us out, leaving us feeling empty, joyless, and hungry for an elusive something more.
Too often it’s true that:
We inhabit ourselves without valuing ourselves, unable to see that here, now, this very moment is sacred; but once it’s gone—its value is incontestable. ~Joyce Carol Oates
Being is a dog who turns around three times, fashions a comfortable nest, and nestles down to stillness, solitude, and rest. Like mother kangaroos and father seahorses, being comes furnished with pouches of space in which new ideas are born from dreams and imaginative musings that create stories of hope, trust, and spiritual meaning. Being is a giving tree that heightens our awareness of the miracles of Nature and provides perches where our souls can live intimately with her. Being is a butterfly that relishes the nectar of every fleeting moment. Being is a fish with eyes perpetually open to see the gift of life flowing past.
If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. ~ Erica Jong
This piece written by Wise Man William Michaelian depicts the delicious blessing of being:
By William Michaelian
Bide with your pain, your discomfort, your illness, the way a dog does. Bide with your worry, your problem, your puzzle, your fear, your mood. Lick your paw, scratch behind your ear, then settle down and sit quietly. Whether it is for a moment or for an hour, sit forever, the way a dog does. Later, when it is time to stir, do whatever it is you need to do next—go to the bathroom, drink some water, eat a little something if you are hungry; fold the laundry, sweep the front step, write or answer a letter; get ready for work; be with your husband, your wife, your children, your elderly parents, your friend. Whatever you do, however you feel, bide. Do what you can; what you cannot do, do later, if it still needs to be done—because it is possible it did not really need doing at all, at least in the way in which you might have planned or envisioned it. To bide is to allow; ultimately you may learn to leave yourself out of the equation entirely, the way a dog does. Then you will be your own best friend. You will be accepting and nonjudgmental, the way a dog is. October 16, 2021. Afternoon. 
Image Credits: Wikipedia Commons: Dog at Rest. Gerrit Dou, 1650. Pinterest: Seahorse by Hailey E. Herrera.
Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.