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 ‘letting things happen’ rather than ‘making things happen’: or ‘being’ and not ‘doing’.I quickly agreed, having no idea what he was talking about. We were headed on 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: how to be rather than how to do. No pre-scheduled lunches with friends, no deadlines 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.
Interestingly, 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’ve discovered that retirement is 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. They know about ‘being‘, but they insist that I keep doing by filling their food bowls at a certain time each day.