Where We Rarely Dwell

In my quest to be an engaged citizen, urban homesteader, radical homemaker, contributor to household coffers, writer, etc., I can get trapped in a life of busyness. I have so many goals. My days are full of checking the clock as I push myself to be more productive, to mark things off my  lists. (Yes, I have more than one list.)

One week before I fell ill, I was advised to take some unscheduled time every week. I never got the chance to try this radical experiment—because soon I was pretty much glued to the couch, in a haze of pain and exhaustion, just trying to get through my days. And even then, chafing at all that was left undone.

My cat Maggie enjoyed the couch time immensely.

My cat Maggie enjoyed the couch time immensely.

This is a typical pattern for me—I have to be forced to slow down. I suspect it’s not uncommon in our hyperproductive Western culture, this need to be sick or injured before we grant ourselves rest.

So when I listened to intuitive Lee Harris‘s monthly energy forecast this week, and heard him talk about slowing down, I had to laugh—it was so on-target. He said we must stop rushing about and go inside the body, where we rarely dwell. We’re so stimulated all the time that we don’t really know our inner selves.

And that’s a loss.

I like to think I’m fairly good at this: after all, I’ve studied mindfulness meditation! I practice yoga! I’ve done all kinds of personal healing! Yet, the fast track always, always hooks me, and I give short shrift to my dreamy, drifty side—until I have no other choice.

Harris says, “The ‘driving masculine’ side is not what we are needing as a world anymore. We have been hearing this for years, but it’s hard for us to change the program.”

I guess that’s why it takes enforced couch time before I can stop being so terribly driven.

Recently on a Transition US call about creating new stories, one of the panelists said something powerful: That we get tripped up if we try to remake the world in the context of an old, outdated story—meaning looking through the lens of competition, judgment, conflict, scarcity, and domination.

I’m reminded of the wisdom feminist poet Audre Lorde offered years ago: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” She was referring to racism and homophobia in the women’s movement, but it applies here too. How can we transcend the dominant culture’s destructiveness if we’re working from that old script—if we are subjugating our inner knowing (available only in stillness) to this constant striving and acting?

Stillness

Stillness

How, though—this is always my dilemma—how do I get important work done without this driven side of myself? Is there a new way of being that allows both the focus to finish (so satisfying: to finish!) and the freedom to swim about, aimlessly dreaming?

Perhaps, instead of a driver archetype, I could assume the gardener archetype. Cultivate change instead of push it. Would that work? What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Where We Rarely Dwell

  1. Remembering the sacred in the mundane helps me to keep a perspective. And I long ago started writing a list for the ‘week’ rather than the ‘day’ when I found myself not “getting everything crossed off” so that I don’t feel overwhelmed.

  2. Thanks Shalley. I like the notion of remembering the sacred in the mundane. I think that alone would require paying attention to the moment, which would slow down at least some of the internal chatter!

  3. If it wasn’t for daily train rides where I read for fun, I would be much more chaotic. Sometimes I have to stop everything all together because the busy becomes “life without fun” and I have to force myself to step back so that I can remember to enjoy life once in a while! This is especially true when I am delving into the aspects of our environment and how humans are destroying so much of it. I really appreciated the reminder to sit back and relax once in a while!

  4. When I was in paid work and studying I pushed myself to the brink trying to achieve in everything I did. As a result I became seriously ill. Now I live life in the slow lane, no lists, I just do each day what I can. He who made time made lots of it.

    • I actually had a similar experience, Bridget. I became ill working in the corporate world. It took me a long time to rebuild my health and it seems my old habits don’t want to die. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story.

  5. Pingback: A Hollow Reed | Shawndra Miller

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