Yesterday it was so hot that after a morning shooting my TV show and an afternoon meeting with a new client downtown, past Belle Isle, (Lutheran Social Services of Michigan), I came home and crawled between the sheets. I was just that tired.
Eventually I clambered back out and sat in front of the computer and worked on some projects for various clients, so it wasn’t a total wash. But I think that work all day Saturday and playing tennis and doing an hour and a half of yoga on Sunday in addition to strolling the farmers market and preparing a lovely multi-course dinner for two good friends did me in.
We choose to be busy. Like Tim Kreider wrote in this New York Times essay. Read it, start to finish. When I was a kid, I played soccer and tennis, danced, and did Girl Scouts, but I always had time to play. After school on clear days, we played with kids on the block – ghosts in the graveyard, tag, hide and seek and red rover.
We rode our bikes through the intersecting paths of our neighborhood, ducking under overgrown weeping willows turned into makeshift forts and I swear, there were spirits whispering their messages to us that only we could hear.
I didn’t slump on the couch after school to watch TV. When I watched, it was Brady Bunch, and in the ’80s I sometimes played Atari or Intellivision but not for hours at a time and mostly when it snowed or rained. I played outside among friends and among my own solitude until dark ushered me back into the house.
I sat around at the dinner table with my parents and siblings and talked about the day as we cut our meat and ate or salad. Dad always had yogurt with berries for dessert. We drank water. We cleared the table. We did homework. I eased into sleep, never revved up from too much electronics, but completely comfortable in the silence of my thoughts and the quiet of the night.
We’ve gotten too busy, this writer asserts, and he is absolutely right. We are forcing ourselves into cluttered, scattered lives of misdirection and busy-ness only because then we don’t have to face the questions.
Years ago, not only because I was a child but because America was different, we were different, we had fruitful, interesting lives with room to breathe and think. That’s how we become who we are – because of the quiet. Because of the empty space to make things up, to explore, to have adventures. Because of the daring. Because of the passion to taste the raindrops or make sno-cones out of snow.
I don’t hear the passion anymore in many of the people around me. Americans run to and fro, fill their days and nights and weekends, making it damn hard to schedule any meaningful time with the people we want to see, but most aren’t driven by a passion and a mission and an inspiring focus in life. We’ve sold our souls for a full dance card.
I was refreshed by Anderson Cooper’s heart-honest statement the other day about being gay and his decision, until now, to not comment on it. In particular, the passion he has for the work that he does and his search for truth. An excerpt:
“It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.”
That from a man who travels the world to tell the stories that need telling and that spur us to action and compassion. While we are preoccupied with his sexual orientation, he is driven to find the truth and share it with the rest of us. He has a mission and a drive, integrity, focus. Do you?
The universe sends you a message again and again when you absolutely need to hear it. Lately, everywhere I turn I hear the message take a break, slow down, savor the silence. Music off, nose to the mat, just BE. Stop human doing; strive for human being. (Thank you to Katherine Austin for that gem.)
Do you really need to be quite so busy? I’m sure I don’t. So my pledge for this holiday week and the rest of the summer is to take a close look at what I really need to do and what I can shed and see how it feels. Just try. One hour a day, one 20-minute stretch of time to meditate in the quiet, one minute even of staring a gazeless gaze off into the horizon. You don’t have to name the birds and trees that flutter into your purview. It’s ok to just breathe.