Two years ago. Ten years ago. Twenty years ago this directive would have scared me. Being still meant that something must be wrong. Or that I would have the time to look at what was wrong in my life. Better to keep moving, stay busy, be trapped in goal setting and to-do lists. The thing about goal setting is that it can either set you free or put you in a cage. Just like a to-do list can either be a means to a great dream or it can keep you so busy you never have time to even see your dreams.
When I look at some of my happiest moments in life they are when the to-do list got put down and the perpetual motion was forced to stop. The idea of doing that as a permanent change however was terrifying. What if when I stopped moving, when I got off the merry go round, I didn’t like what I saw?
This isn’t something peculiar to just me. Last year when the world stopped and we should have been forced as a society to face our failures and our greatest issues instead we baked bread. Lots and lots of bread. We researched how to bake bread and where to get the ingredients. For a while it became a national pastime. It was during this time that I realized I used the next thing, my never ending to do list, my goals to hide from my life. How is that even possible? Using your life to hide from your life? Oh it is, it definitely is.
When the world stopped moving and I was forced to slow down the stillness was overwhelming. It wasn’t true stillness of course. It was the lack of busyness. So first I panicked and then I filled my time with, yes, baking, tried learning french, guitar, etc. Taking away all the travel, all the driving, all the sports, still left time and yes, I was forced to sit with the stillness.
What happened? I had to learn that it was okay to sit in my own life. I had to learn that it was okay to be silent. And then as the world returned to its busyness again I had to start looking for stillness. How do I find the stillness? I take deep breaths, as often as I can. I collect rocks. I look up at the sky as often as I can. I listen to books and read books. I take each week at a time and remind myself that we don’t need to be overbooked. When all else fails I lay in my bed a little extra longer in the morning or a little extra longer before I go to sleep. I sit in discomfort. I welcome the stillness. It is the stillness that I am able to grow and learn and truly be.
How do you approach stillness? Do you welcome it into your life?