I have taken a week off work. I’m feeling burned out after two years of writing copy for an internet marketing company in which I write article after article about cars and trucks and SUVs. My soul has shriveled.
Today is the first day off. A month ago I knew that my spirit was seriously thirsty, that I was unfulfilled and made a pledge to “go deep” more often. To spend more time being spiritually present, to spend less time doing and more time being.
And yet as I look at the long list of things I’d come up with that “must be done” on this week away from work, I see what they truly are. An escape plan. They are all good things—cleaning the shed and the garage before winter, scheduling a teacher conference, making a lemon pie for my husband’s birthday, changing bank accounts—but they are “doing” things, not “being” things.
Why do I run from being? Why does the actuality of spending time in quiet, in solitude, waiting for Spirit to speak fill me with such antsy-ness and dread? I want to do, do, do because it feels good. It feels productive and gives my organized side a boost of energy and satisfaction. But what about the other side of me? The creative who needs silence to create? The soulful being that needs connection with a greater Presence? The child who needs quiet and time to dream? Why does the bossy organizer, the adult, the responsible drone, get to call all the shots?
Today, let’s consider the possibility that whatever we’re running from is exactly what we need. Quiet. Peace. Reflection. And the wisdom that comes from all three. Consider that what we truly need is not to check things off our list, but to just sit quietly and be open.
After all these years of writing as my job, you’d think that the words would always come easily, that there wouldn’t be any more hesitation, any more of the doubt and fear. But here I am, sitting in my kitchen on a dark, Monday morning and taking on this new project. I can hear the tree leaves rustling outside the window. The sound comes in waves like the ocean and then recedes.
I’ve been sitting for several minutes staring at the blank, white screen in front of me, that familiar band of tightness in my gut. All the regular excuses and worries come out to play.
“No one is going to read this anyway.”
“Who will ever find your blog?”
“There are other writers doing this already … and doing it better.”
“Who are you to think that you can do this?”
Ah, that last one is a sure sign that I’m on the right path. When my incredulous inner critic asks “who are you to …” or “who do you think you are?” then I can be certain I’m doing the right work.
That doesn’t make it easier, necessarily. In fact, it usually makes it harder.
Doing the “right work,” is very often doing the hard work. The work that your soul craves, the work that Spirit asks of you. It’s easier to do the other work—that work that feels good and logical and makes sense (and maybe money) and doesn’t require a lot of your guts on display.
But this is the work that won’t leave me alone. It dogs my steps and inspires me, despite my efforts to remain immune to it. It calls me in the middle of the night when I’m tossing and turning. It comes with frustration and fear and lots and lots of self-doubt.
I want to do the other work. The work that stays on the surface of things, that is logical and teachable and can be backed up by hard facts and experts and sometimes even science. But this is not that type of work.
Instead, this requires an adventurer’s heart, a child’s belief system and the ability to delve deeply below the surface of life and into its core. It’s messy (and I don’t really like messy) and complicated and beautiful all in one.