Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stop To Be

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.  I've been pushing exceptionally hard on every front and I hadn't stepped back to evaluate until a few good friends on separate occasions asked the question: "What on earth are you doing?"

I didn't have a good answer.  The truth is, I don't think I'm doing enough.  I don't think I'm getting anywhere.  And I have been this way my entire life, believing that nothing will happen to me if I don't work to a point of exhaustion, pushing so far forward that I don't know where I am. 

I've been thinking I just need to get through this day...this week...this month.  I soon realized, if I keep thinking this way, if I keep seeing time as something to overcome, it's like saying, I just need to get through this life.

A sobering thought.

When I listen to a song (and being caught inside a song is where I like best to be) I like to listen to as many versions of it as I can, hear it sung in different voices, let it be taken over by a Spanish guitar, or played as folk, jazz, classical. 

On a radio show I like to listen to, the host does this.  He'll play one song four times in a row, four different renditions of the same tune, to the outrage of other listeners.  To my delight.

In this month of May, I have decided to similarly step back, to see the same me in a different way, rather than get trapped inside time I've all but begged to vanish. 

It is difficult for me to stop in order to be, instead of working to become.  But I am going to try.

And I'm sorry for the many I's in this post.  It's actually really bothering me.  So what do you do?  How do you stop to be?


  1. Melissa, what an interesting post. I was quite under the weather yesterday and spent a lot of time resting. Later that night, I told my husband how I kept fretting over not being able to "do" anything. Then I told him about a quote or something I remembered about someone saying that we are called human "beings" and not human "doings", so it is okay to just "be" and not always feel pressured to "do".

    So thanks for adding to the perspective by reminding me to just "be" and not get so hung up on "be"coming.

  2. I've been thinking I just need to get through this day...this week...this month. I soon realized, if I keep thinking this way, if I keep seeing time as something to overcome, it's like saying, I just need to get through this life.

    I have this problem too. Sometimes I'm so focused on the end that I don't enjoy the journey. Sometimes I make the journey miserable by trying to get it over. I'm still struggling to overcome this. The thing that has helped me is my kids. If I keep propelling them through MY lists of "need to do" they end up miserable. I realized I was missing their baby and toddler years. So I try to slow down and let them enjoy the moment and enjoy it with them. I want to look back and remember this time as opposed to wondering what was so important that I missed it. As I said I still struggle, and probably will all my life, but wanting to change is the key. Knowing what I want and working on being that way, even when I make mistakes is the only way to change. Good luck on "being" this month. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. You're not alone, Melissa (in fact, you likely never are). Struggling to stay in the moment rather than hurry through every day of my life is something I ponder almost daily. When I was a kid, my parents would greet every whine from me with a common refrain: "Don't wish your life away." It's a cliche, sure, but it's also really true.

    I think just realizing the hustle and bustle in which we find ourselves is a good way to step back. What's worrisome is when we pass years this way, never pausing to stop and reflect. Knowing that you occasionally need time to "be" rather than "become" is a big step. We're all there with you, cheering you on.

  4. Good lord Melissa, I love how you get into my head and take my scattered, dumb thoughts and make them into something beautiful that I read and think "See, THAT'S what I wanted to say!" I too used to think "If only I can get through X" and then thought - that's a horrible way of looking at things! I changed my mindset a few years ago (though especially long work days can still get me down) and couldn't be happier. It's truly worth enjoying every minute, even if you REALLY have to search for something to laugh about!

    Speaking of - today at work I laughed, like insane, can't-keep-it-to-myself-even-in-a-silent-cubicle-environment laughter that had me crying. I thought of your post about the "crazy" woman and laughed even more. I was going to tweet you about it but couldn't find the words, surprise surprise.

    I also love having different versions of the same song - covers from different artists as well as the original demos. Now I want to look through my collection and see what I have. I'd love to compare it to yours, even though I don't know if we like the same styles.

  5. Going for a spontaneous walk and people-watching usually helps me focus on being in the moment. Or being caught inside a song--that's such a wonderful image! I hope all the stressful stuff fades away soon!

  6. So beautifully written, Melissa. I love that your friends brought it to your attention. Your line: "just get through this life" was potent. For me, it's intentionally making myself aware of life right now. I do that by writing down everything I'm grateful for that day. This often switches my mindset from what's ahead to the here and now. Thanks for this reminder though. I still rush through my days and forget to notice this moment.
    Catherine Denton

  7. Melissa, I have sent your kindle voucher to download Violet Jelly. I sent it to your 'thistoo' email.

  8. Good luck on your stepping back for the month. It's a great goal and I hope you find that it helps. (from a fellow overdoer) :)

  9. I think we have a lot in common! Here's what i continually tell myself: Stop writing. You need to think, not do.

    Or as Rumi says: "Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out."