“So, what did you do today?” What an oppressive question. I ask it of myself over and over and over throughout any given day. If you’re like me, you wake up on the weekend, especially for those of us white collar folks in the crowd, with a to-do list as long as Santa’s nice list. Clean the garage, pick up the dry cleaning, take the dog for an extra long walk, write that business plan for a start up, practice the Veracini Largo, make a soup for the week, go to the farmer’s market, rake, weed, plant, wash, organize, catch up on stuff I didn’t get to at work, see if I can get a better deal on the mortgage… But recently, I just don’t have it in me to do any of it. I’m not feeling particularly lazy. I did three hours of yoga today and have managed at least 45 minutes a day since I got home from Bali. I’m just rebelling against the incessant burden of “should” and allowing myself to follow a new path. A path with a lot fewer “should do’s” and a lot more “oms” and “awws.”
For those of you waiting for the written recap of my recent trip abroad don’t hold your breath. Sure, it’s coming. It’s in outline form, in pictures, dancing through my mind, inhabiting my essence. But I’m not sharing it yet. The trip to Bali taught me something super useful. Time means nothing. Time is just a sequence of numbers, a way to mark passage, a yard stick of sorts for the journey. But in Bali, whether it takes an hour, a year, or a lifetime to “do” something doesn’t really matter. What matters is the natural unfolding and observation of what is and it’s stunning. I’ve been back for two weeks. I’m still exploring the meaning of going from Beijing to Singapore and then to Bali. This was no accident. For me, now exploring the notion of our food system, our economy, and the ways in which we, in the Western World, have lost our connection to what’s important, I’m still in shock over what I saw in “modern” Asia contrasted with the precious gift of experiencing a still agrarian, aesthetic, truly spiritual lifestyle worlds away from my life yet so familiar and compelling. I can’t stop thinking of the exclamation of one of my traveling companions. “We’re so behind,” she would exclaim when observing commercial “development” in Beijing and Singapore. Each time she’d say the words, I found myself speechless, wanting to ask “behind what?” but not able to find the energy to engage in a dialogue about more economic growth centered around consumption of mostly plastic crap.
While in Bali I turned off electronics (aka plastic crap), disconnected from my wallet, and opened my heart and eyes to just experience whatever came. There was no agenda. I lost count of the temples I visited and shrines I encountered. I never allowed myself to pass a shrine (they are literally everywhere and it’s hard not to trip over the offerings) without clasping my hands, closing my eyes, and paying homage if only for a moment. Most of the shrines are to goddesses since the female form and energy is revered in the Hindu religion. It was only three days but it was enough to wash away the stress and toxins from my intensely focused previous week trotting from one business meeting to another.
One day I hired a “yogi” to teach me the basics of Hatha. He spent 2+ hours with me taking me through the foundations of the practice and “brainwashing” me in broken English into the ways of heart-centered, peaceful living. Since that day I’ve been about as relaxed as I’ve ever been. Most things just don’t seem that important. I’ve been home just two weeks and have already traveled to Seattle, watched my kids pass from school into summer, worked with several friends on life passages and had my own, had an employee quit in a fit of panic, suffered through days of intestinal flu, and made endless to-do lists in my mind waiting for the mental chastising I expect will come when it doesn’t get done to my old ideal of perfection.
Today was my new ideal of a perfect day. I arose at 6:15 AM, late for me, and gently, slowly, and fully engaged, walked the dog, did some light stretching and prepared myself for a day of physical and mental restoration. My friend Heather and I went for a flow yoga session in Montara and I stayed for the next, a restorative yoga class. After 3 hours of yoga, I was finally ready to face the rest of the day. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the wharf in Moss Beach, went home for a nap, and then took our daughters to see the new “Judy Moody” movie for some laugh and color therapy. Next Sunday I’m hoping for a repeat. Meanwhile, there are weeds in the front garden, some laundry in the bin, no stock pile of meals for the week, and I’m sure I’m not meeting the western world’s expectations of perfection in any way. I do however, take consolation in the fact that I’m pretty sure they’d like me in Bali.
4 thoughts on “Don’t. Just Don’t.”
Mary – I love this. Though retired for over a year now, I still feel like I should be doing something all this time and hope to learn and enjoy a more heart-centered, relaxed way of life. I am finding more time to read, to sit on the grass by the river and listen to music and observe the wisdom of my granddaughters. Joyce
I can’t wait to hear more about this. How do we reconcile the need for peace and being present and dealing with the day-to-day demands of living in the world of “should dos”?
What a great read, a way for me to pause and take a breath on a Monday. Thanks Mary.
Did you ever see an unhappy child or adult in Bali? I was told that Balinese babies rarely cry because they’re carried for the first 180 days. (I know they must cry because I heard a parrot crying like a baby, and it had to learn it somewhere. Can you imagine? Your children are grown and the parrot cries for another 70 years.) Everybody has time to appreciate beauty or create it. They’re efficient too — most of the people either make things, sell things or ship things — all in calm. It’s also one of the most beautiful places with the most beautiful people I’ve ever been. They made us feel as if our being there was a blessing to them. I’ve been there twice, and you make me want to go back.