Learning to ‘Be’ Instead of ‘Do’

Learning to Be

In the spring I moved to a 4-day work week. Basically 40 hours in 4 days instead of 5. This is a good move for me as I needed the space a 3-day weekend provides.

But it also means that on Thursdays I’m tired. Really tired. I meander more than usual, I am unable to efficiently get dressed, get to the subway, get to work, and click control/alt/delete.

I’m finding that inefficiency is a gift.

I’ve found that in the inefficiency that is Thursday I stop and find out the names of those on the streets: those who curl up under the tall pillars of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral; those who cuddle concrete and brick walls close to ward off the cold; those who spoon together for physical comfort under tattered blankets, their hoodies pulled tight over their heads.

It’s on these days that I learn more about buying coffee instead of giving money; where I find out who needs surgery, who stole a wheelchair, why Sheryl is so thin.

I am not sure why this happens on Thursdays – maybe it’s because I’m tired and with my tiredness, more relatable. But I think it’s more that I give myself permission to be more than a machine, I realize how I live the ‘now’ is important, realize getting to work a few minutes late because I stopped to get someone a coffee is somehow worth it. It’s these moments I will remember when I can no longer work, not the efficient minutes in my grey cubicle.

There is a stark contrast of this Boston to the Red Sox Boston, to the Celtics Boston, to the Harvard, MIT Boston, to the Robert McCloskey Make Way for Ducklings Boston. And yet this is part of the fabric of the city and the people here don’t much care about that other Boston. Their lives are caught up in the crisis of today with its hunger, addictions, and relationship struggles.

I will never know how to “do” poverty; “do” homeless – and maybe that’s part of the problem. Before I’ve always thought of this as something to “do” and it is in the doing where I trip up. I alternate between guilt and pride, between true empathy and anger, between ignoring and connecting in a sickly sweet way that oozes pity instead of true concern. Maybe “doing” is all wrong – not what this is about.

Because on these days, where interacting is natural and comfortable, where there is no guilt, where I am tired, I learn what it is to just “be”. To relate human to human in the early morning fog of tired, steam rising from manholes, and the city in its pre-workday quiet.

Maybe it’s about “being” instead of “doing”. Maybe in being I learn to bear witness to the human story that gets lost in the doing. Maybe.

Image credit: wrangel / 123RF Stock Photo

3 thoughts on “Learning to ‘Be’ Instead of ‘Do’

  1. Interesting how exhaustion shows the importance of the little things… and gives you more empathy with people whose lives are not together. It can also have the opposite effect, and make me grouchy and impatient with everyone.

    Like

Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s