When I left the corporate world over twenty-five years ago, I stopped wearing a watch. I decided then that I no longer wanted to watch my life ticking away on the face of a clock. I no longer wanted to be time’s slave. I also made the decision to do only those things which brought joy into my everyday existence. I did this as much as I could within the social/economic framework of which I was a part. I wanted to have those experiences and explorations which forced my heart to sing because it had no other choice. The joy inside me could not be held there. It had to be released. I found this joy in the everyday, the simple, and the natural flow of life. I find this joy in simply “being.”
On the information page of my memoir I listed my occupation as “being,” but what does this mean? At a recent gathering, a woman asked me, “What do you do?”
I thought of Siddhartha when he was asked a similar question to which my answer would have been, “I read, I write, I think and I dream,” for these are truly the things that I do. Instead, I replied, “Nothing.”
“How does one do nothing?” she inquired.
I wasn’t expecting that answer to come from my mouth so I had to ask myself the same question again. “By not filling my time with things I have to do,” I said. “I put as few requirements on my time as possible so I can do whatever I choose to do at any given moment with the time I have. For a large amount of that time, I choose to do nothing.”
“How does one do nothing?” she asked again.
“One does not ‘do’ nothing. One allows ‘nothing’ to happen by not engaging in any activity which requires action. By not doing but simply being. ”
“Is it like meditation?” she asks.
“For me ‘being’ is what one strives for in meditation. It is the result of meditation but it requires no consciousness of breath, no special pillows, positions, or whatever tools one uses to enter a meditative state. The mind is free of thought, of any requirements, or demands upon it. ‘Being’ is a natural state. It is just that we are so removed from our naturalness that we have to work to get back to it.”
“What about the body?”
“Most often the body is still, sitting or lying, but ‘being’ can be engaged in any physicality. I am ‘being’ when walking on the beach, taking everything in through the senses. Then letting it go just as quickly without thought or judgement but with complete awareness. A similar experience might be the loss of the memory of time. You know you have been walking for over an hour but it seem like only ten minutes. During the other fifty minutes you were in a state of being without consciousness or memory of individual occurrences. There is no recollection of time because in ‘being,’ time literally does not exist and cannot be recalled. ‘Being’ bypasses the filters and prejudices of the brain. ‘Being’ is a total experience with everything that exists in your environment, not a mental one. In today’s language, one might describe ‘being’ as ‘tuning out’ because one looses the conscious sense of self. ‘Being’ is a state of awareness not of consciousness.”
“What’s the difference between the two?” she asks.
“Consciousness requires attention. ‘Being’ is acceptance. There is no conscious attention to anything. It is the peak moment that athletes refer to when running the perfect race taking place in the everyday nature of existence, of being.”
“My husband would tell me I’m wasting my time if I sat around all day just ‘being.'” she says.
“As one becomes accustomed to this state it becomes a natural part of your existence. You don’t roam your home repeating ‘Om’ all day but you are more centered, more even keeled in carrying out and responding to the activities of your life. You no longer react to life as being outside of yourself. You respond to it as all of yourself. Your life is your time. What you do with it, how you live it is your choice but ‘The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time,’ according to Bertrand Russell. The state of being is one of total joy causing your heart to sing even when no one is listening.”