being · musings · retirement · schedules · thoughts

Learning to ‘Be’

In our society, what we do is one of the first things people ask us. Usually our jobs define us, setting the stage on which we perform. Our self-image is wrapped up in what we do for a living, our accomplishments, our income, as though the reason for our being is based on ‘doing’.

I remember my husband asking me if we could spend a year just ‘being’ and not ‘doing’. I quickly agreed, having no idea what he was talking about. We were headed off for a yearlong venture in Australia and New Zealand, without any predetermined place to be, time to be there, or things to do.

It was the first time since I was a small child that I was without demands being placed on me. We didn’t know anyone, we had never been to either country, and we were free to let our lives flow freely, enjoying the moment as it appeared.

It may have been one of the hardest things I had to learn to do: ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. No lunches with friends, no schedules to meet, no outside expectations. Just deciding each morning, or each hour what we wanted to do right then. What would satisfy our souls at that moment: reading, sleeping, walking on the beach, driving to a new spot? We were free to decide without self-imposed timetables.

So what did we do those 12 months? We saw a lot of country, we watched a lot of sunrises, I learned to scuba dive, we enjoyed train trips, we walked to the market, and we met new friends. We just ‘were’, learning to be comfortable with who we are.

Interesting, in those two countries, folks didn’t care about what we did or didn’t do as an occupation. I wasn’t asked once about my ‘long term plans’ or my career path. As one Aussie explained, ‘We work to live, and you Yanks live to work.”

How true it is.

I’m looking at retirement as another adventure into ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. Certainly I will do things, but having the time to pick and choose what feeds my innermost calling can be uncomfortable, but also extremely liberating.

That means I can stay up until 3 a.m. and sleep until 10 a.m. I wish my doglets understood my ‘liberated’ sense of timing.

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23 thoughts on “Learning to ‘Be’

  1. Love the concept of “being” not “doing” but wonder if I’d have the strength to do it – I’m sure I’d turn myself inside out before achieving it, lol – kudos to you and your husband!😄

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  2. I love this post. I’m approaching a full year since I retired, and in the past months I have increasingly embraced the “being” and not the “doing”. This surprised me, in that I dreamed for years about being able to write full-time, but now that I have that hard-earned luxury, the writing has lost some of its allure. I still enjoy it, that’s still a main focus, but this freedom to do whatever you want is extremely satisfying. If I want to spend the entire day reading a good book or organizing family photos or learning Spanish or figuring out how to make the best Alfredo sauce ever, I can do that. I don’t have to be anywhere or account to anybody about my daily activities.

    My partner is annoyed by my seeming lack of focus, dismayed that I am not doing something he deems worthy of improving my life (or at least keeping the house clean with precise regularity), but he hasn’t retired yet so he doesn’t know about this miracle of each dawn being another opportunity to pursue whatever I want. After decades of doing what is expected of me, this freefall of pure self-interest is amazing…

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    1. Amazing and freeing. All this non structured time can be liberating but frightening. Enjoy, hibernate , fly, and follow your own voice. You’ll find your place, your speed, your pace. Have fun.

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  3. I remember when my husband and I were on our first summer mission experience in his home town. I felt at a loss. I did not know what to DO or how to go about DOING it. I was really anxious and felt really helpless. Well, I prayed and I remember the “voice” that spoke quietly into my mind to tell me this: “Just BE…..”

    What a relief, to just BE in that community and to deal with whatever came to hand in that “being”, knowing that that was exactly what God wanted of me at that time.

    I’ve never forgotten the lesson…..

    Ann

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  4. How insightful! By just ‘being’ we can take some time to ourselves to truly think and reflect. Quite interesting.

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