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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