Inside the Cocoon, it’s Appropriate to Do Nothing!

Some of the best advice my mom ever gave me was, “When in doubt, do nothing.”

That’s some tough advice for this man to swallow. Our culture doesn’t really value doing nothing. In fact, collectively we pretty much loathe it. Especially in a man.

I’m not sure I even really know how to do “nothing.” Certainly not how to do it well. Look at dogs and cats; they have it down. They sit there. Mostly still. Resting. Basking. Maybe they pant a little or placidly lick themselves all over. They might look patiently at me before allowing their gaze to nonchalantly drift aside as if daydreaming about simple things like chipmunks and cupcakes.

Animals have this “do nothing” thing nailed! I’m envious.

I’m involved with lots of things; I work with GATE (The Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment) and a few transformational artists. But GATE is currently a volunteer organization and my artists aren’t in a phase of heavy work right now, so presently I’m a bit professionally discombobulated! (isn’t that a fun word?)

For the first time in my adult professional life, I don’t quite know what to do with most of my time.

Years ago, A dear friend told me he was suspicious of patience; as if being patient meant allowing oneself to be at the mercy of life’s whims, embracing passivity and letting other people/circumstances decide for you. Essentially, he was advocating for impatience as an effective way of dealing with everyday life: better to be proactive and do something – anything! – and accept the consequences rather than just sit back and accept … well, the consequences.

Honestly, that just sounded stressful to me. I also noticed that either way, there were consequences.

Impatience can only emerge from a fearful, desperate mindset that insists this moment is not working as it’s supposed to; that life doesn’t know what it’s doing and it would be far better to do something – anything! – to change things as quickly as possible to my liking.

I can’t actually find fault with wanting to change “now” more into my liking. I typically want to feel yummy as much as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, I have experienced too long the complete futility of working to change external circumstances to extinguish an internal angst. Sometimes it’s not about external circumstances, like a neighbor’s loud music or stinky feet.

Sometimes it’s just something inside me that hurts without really knowing why, that feels disconnected or left out. It’s a part that simply feels unseen.

This anxiety tends to hit when I think life isn’t showing up for me in the big ways I believe it should be. When professionally things aren’t going the way I want, or I’m waking up alone, aching to share all this magic with the right woman. Or maybe I can’t have a dog and just really want one.

When this anxiety hits, I often feel an intense desire to move the external pieces around as fast as possible to just get relief. I’ll feel desire to hook up with an ok-for-now partner or just find whatever work I can find just to have something to occupy time; even if I don’t really need the money.

I often counsel my clients not to confuse movement with progress. Acting from anxious impatience is like ripping open a caterpillar’s cocoon because, c’mon butterfly!! I want to experience your beauty now!!

But instead of experiencing the awesome brilliance of the butterfly’s fully developed, intricately patterned wings flitting off to ride a streaking sunbeam, we pull out a soupy, colorful carcass that, sure, may be different from the caterpillar but certainly ain’t a butterfly! And it sure don’t fly!!

I was convinced 2012 would be a year of massive growth and excitement in my career and personal life. It’s 2012 after all!! This is the year, baby!!!

But it’s not shaping up that way. 2012 is clearly a year of deep, profound transition.

I wonder what the butterfly feels inside the cocoon. Does it experience anxiety thinking it isn’t out flying about, pollinating plants and playing a productive role in Life’s master plan? Does it fret that this damn cocoon thing takes way too long and who can I speak with about increasing the efficiency of cocoon turnover time?

I doubt it.

Just as I doubt my mom’s fluffy Bernese Mountain Dogs worry whether they’re being productive members of the household as they lazily watch her vacuum thick sheets of brown, black and white dog hair off the couch.

I’m not advocating for laziness as a lifestyle, or for husbands to act like house pets and watch their wives do all the housework. I’m only suggesting that life may sometimes call for us in the larger picture to be patient and do nothing.

Deeper processes may be taking place within that we’re not conscious of. The Uni-verse may be rearranging circumstances such that waiting to act at the very moment we’re called to act – versus acting now for the sake of simply doing something – will set us up for brilliant success that also deeply aligns with our inner compass, our deepest truth.

So despite my claustrophobia, I’m going to be patient and trust I’ll eventually emerge a handsome butterfly with fully formed wings. I’d rather take that chance than risk prematurely ripping myself outta this discomfort only to drip down the stalk a gooey, sluggish travesty of life’s possibilities.

Is life calling you deeply to be patient? Can you notice the difference between patiently and enthusiastically working in alignment with your deepest truth and simply working for the sake of doing something – anything!?

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Bryan Reeves is a totally rad music manager. Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter.

  • nomad87

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I’ve been pretty much forcing my way “out of the cocoon” for the last two years, thinking things weren’t good enough or I wasn’t doing enough. I’ve definitely learned alot but when it’s all said and done- patience really is a virtue. <3

    • : ) thank you for commenting. enjoy the stillness.

  • Dianne D

    What a lovely read. Our crazy societies are increasingly fast-paced to the point where if we want to have a breather or slow things down, we feel guilty about not contributing or being productive. We forget we need our time too, to become centred and reconnect with ourselves with the Universe. we should trust ourselves to be patient. All in good time…

    • thank you, Dianne … yes, collectively, we’ve embraced the ultimately exhausting paradigm that we must always be contributing, producing, earning, creating, consuming … it’s just not true! 

  • Remingtonkristen

    Thank you for this post. I often find myself feeling guilty for doing nothing. Like  I am being judged by taking time for me or taking time to digest life in general. It is nice to know that others understand the importance of slowing down and just learning to breathe.

    • yes indeed. “slowing down” … “taking time” … “learning to breathe” … some of the most divine and underappreciated acts of self-love possible. Enjoy thoroughly!!!

  • Kmarpuri

    This is so me now. And the best thing I’m learning this time is to wait on The Uni-verse. The butterfly is a very nice metaphor especially the “growing time.” I was thinking of the pancake batter being fully formed below before flipping it out.

    • oooooh, I LOVE eating raw pancake batter!!! 

  • Kdmidwife

    I have not experienced anything as humbling as a recent bone break, which then (perhaps because I was still trying to “do” instead of “be”) led to the development of a small but scary blood clot.  Sigh.  Patience.  Rest.  Wait.  Metamorph.  Sometimes if we don’t respond to the more subtle cues our bodies, our souls give us, we get a big “STOP” sign.  “Don’t pass Go.  Sit still.  Pay attention to what’s going on in your heart and around you.” 
    We cover up so much by “doing”.  Thanks for the blog, Bryan.  I am pulling all my gooey, unfinished self back to the coccoon for a bit longer….(Finally!!!) LOL

    • sometimes life just gives us undeniable guidance to sit and be still … like breaking a bone. jeez though that’s some serious tough love!!! glad you’re taking the cue. heal well!!!

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  • Driabrown

    I feel like my generation has the hardest time accepting this. Especially being in college or just graduating, its all about getting money and being successful right off the bat. I thought that would be me 4 months ago. Instead I got the hugest stall with finding work, I didn’t get a car for graduation as I anticipated, and I had a fall out with my family. With my living situation now fully dependent on me, I felt that reaction to do something, anything immediately. Once again, God and the Universe said no. Me being part of the “great things don’t come to those who wait” and “I make things happen”, I panicked and began to feel resentful toward the Universe for not “providing” or giving me the tools to provide for myself. This period is a very big blow to my ego if not the biggest trial in trusting the Universe and God. 

    • I understand you Dria. I wrote an earlier TDL blog about “Embracing The Void” … sounds likes what you’re going through now!!! 

      An excerpt from that one:


      “There’s a great line in the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”. Years after human civilization has ground to a halt and is near extinction, a woman says, “We can hear God speak to us when it is silent.”

      In the quiet space of No-Thing-ness, when I’m not distracted by all the circumstances, relationships, responsibilities and beliefs that I normally use to define myself, I see clearly that I’m just a brilliant child of and actually wanted by this Uni-verse!
      How do I know the Uni-verse wants me? Because I’m here. It created me. Just as It created you.”
      You’ll get through this. Just keep looking for all the miracles around you … which just means focus on the things that ARE clearly working (like oxygen filling your lungs, the floor holding you up firmly, the sun shining on your face, etc.). You’ll get through. Promise. And you’re definitely not alone. Many of us are going through powerful, challenging transition right now. With Love, Bryan.

  • Bella

    Thanks for the yellow light 🙂 or better yet the Wake Up Call. Your blog is still sinking in as there’s such important aspects of my life I can apply it to. It is hard for me to sometimes let go and be patient… Especially when we don’t even realize behave as if we were on a conquest, and just keep pushing and moving “forward”.

    May you get all the sunshine, warmth and love you need to fully develop and come out of your cocoon 🙂

    • Hi Bella … this is a tricky one for many of us. Our culture doesn’t highly value “allowing” and “stillness”. It’s up to us cultural pioneers to bravely allow Life’s deeper wisdom to infuse the unfolding adventure of our collective story. Life knows what it’s doing. It’s gotten us this far! Thanks for commenting. I appreciate you.

  • Maralee04

    Thank you So Much for this! I really needed this awesome insight! I too feel like a claustrophobic soon to be butterfly in a cocoon! I must understand that there Are things I should be doing Now, but I don’t because all I see is the BIG picture. I want the BIG picture NOW sometimes! It really is about taking Baby steps, simple things are better then doing everything all at once with impatience. 
    This was my highlight of the day! <3

    • yes, you are not alone, my sister. and you’re right, even the biggest, most beautiful tapestries can be created only one stitch at a time. have a beautiful day!

  • Natasha

    Perfect timing, Bryan-love! I am sitting here getting myself ready to work, and conversing with a friend about my need to just “wait” and be patient in life and love, struggling with my innate desire to jump out of this cocoon and fully embrace the ecstatic joy of loving and living, and then I am gently and beautifully reminded of why I must be patient as I begin reading your article today. Thank you for that gracious and penetrating reminder!! When the time comes to fly, it is going to be the most exhilarating flight of my journey thus far on this miraculous planet!! I’m sure yours will be, too. Lots of love to you, my friend!!

    • thank you Natasha, beautifully written. 

      the real juicy part is that we can already “embrace the ecstatic joy of loving and living” without anything being different than how it is … right now. Even inside the cocoon, we can tingle with ecstatic gratitude for the miracles around us everywhere in this moment. We can just simply allow our minds and hearts to enjoy a BRILLIANT DAY OF SIMPLE, PURE BEING … even inside this sometimes uncomfortable little cocoon. … seriously, enjoy a brilliant day.

  • Lauren

    I’ve been searching for the words to explain to others why it is that in the midst of everything in my world seeming to be turned upside-down, I’m doing nothing.  I think this speaks to so many people during this time of profound transition, so many mahalos to you for putting it in such eloquent terms so that we may explain it, and others might give themselves permission to just be.  With deep gratitude…

    • beautiful. thank you, Lauren. it actually takes a lot more courage to “do nothing” i think, in the midst of profound transition. it’s so tempting to just go all crazy frenzied on life and force SOMETHING to happen … i’m choosing the path of stillness and trust … scary as hell some days, honestly. But no matter what’s going on outside, I’ve always got an inner smile to cut through the fog and light the way to at least a moment of relief and joy, even if it only occurs in the witnessing of the drool of a big, goofy dog’s ecstacy!

      Thank you for commenting and sharing. You are not alone!!! Love, B

  • “I was convinced 2012 would be a year of massive growth and excitement in my career and personal life. It’s 2012 after all!! This is the year, baby!!!”
    “But it’s not shaping up that way. 2012 is clearly a year of deep, profound transition.”I could have written that myself. Living quite the parallel, and only now, after many months, stopped resisting this transition. Thanks for your insights. Looking forward to reading more about your transition.

    • just gotta give yourself to the river’s flow … might as well enjoy the float!! 🙂

  • Amanda R

    Oh, Bryan! You just helped me understand what I’m going through.  Thank you. 🙂

  • Nipandpluck

    Thank you for this amazing post!  This statement — “I was convinced 2012 would be a year of massive growth and excitement
    in my career and personal life. It’s 2012 after all!! This is the year,

    “But it’s not shaping up that way. 2012 is clearly a year of deep, profound transition.”

    totally resonated with me.

    • thank goodness I’m not alone!!!! (and neither are you : )))))

  • Susan Huff

    I have been reading Daily Love since it began, lots of things have truly touched me but this one blew it out of the park, I have been knocked down, put myself down, injured, and fallen physically and emotionally, I have been high as a kite( with just being) and have have had the best of times yet thru it all rest and stillness are the hardest lessons for me – DOING was being and it made all OK- yet when you are in pain because your CHILD is ill, not you are at the steps of the threshold, NOW you must, MUST be patient, loving, and JUST THERE – sad it had to be this hard, but I feel my greatest teacher has arrived, TRUE love of just being there!

    • Susan … thank you so much for sharing this. Simply Being. That’s where the magic’s at. The effortless kind of magic : )   There’s an incredible visionary artist, Chris Jordan, who’s documenting the tragic decline of the majestic Albatross at Midway Atoll in the Pacific due to Albatross babies eating so much ocean plastic that it’s annihilating them. He talks about grief as an incredibly powerful doorway to Awakening. 

      I’m sorry you’ve had to endure so much. I’m glad to hear you’re bringing awareness enough to your journey that the challenges don’t harden you into angry cynicism, but rather only serve to passionately refine you into the resplendent brilliant being you already are. 

      Also, I’d like to share the Rumi poem “The Grapes of My Body” …  below. You’ll understand why.

      All My Love, Bryan

      THE GRAPES OF MY BODY, by Rumi

      The grapes of my body can only become wine
      After the winemaker tramples me.
      I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
      So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
      Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
      “I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty”
      The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears:
      “I am not working in ignorance
      You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
      But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
      And when through my Passion
      you reach Perfection,
      You will never be done praising my name.

  • Grania

    Great article Bryan. I’m in the cocoon at the moment too and your words really resonate. It’s so difficult to stop moving, and above all, trust, when you’re so used to action, action, action. I’m taking the time out from all the lack of drama attached to my life now, to write a book. It’s such an interesting process and  it’s bringing me further  inwards to a place of  self love and appreciation of  my experiences and life lessons. It’s also giving  some structure to the empty time and filling the mind spaces where panic used to set in before…
    Love and light

    • I’m hearing from a lot of people “in the cocoon”. There’s apparently rampant cocooning happening all over the planet at the moment. I wonder what’s coming ………… 🙂

      • Terra Bundance

        BUTTERFLIES!!! 🙂

  • Terra Bundance

    Most definitely!!!!! 🙂 Thanks brother! <3