I wrote this post late last year, when I was absolutely exhausted, way too busy, and barely limping to the Christmas finish line. Unsurprisingly, I never found the time to actually post it. Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking on this topic, and I’ve picked the word ‘WHOLE’ to guide my New Year. You can read more about my choice on instagram, but the story starts here.
I’m tired. Tired of my endless to-do lists. Tired of meal planning. Tired of backyard blitzing. Tired of trying to find the perfect couch cushions. Tired of passive-aggressive, motivational instaquotes from questionably-qualified coaches. Tired of blog posts telling me how to hack my productivity, grow my followers, build passive income, write 3000 words before breakfast, and just generally do more in one day than should ever be humanly possible. I mean: 3000 words before 6am? Not likely! I love my flannelette PJs and bed way too much. And I also want to, you know, have a life.
Most of all, I’m tired of the guilt. I’m running my own copywriting business, getting 8 hours of sleep a night, cooking (mostly) healthy meals, keeping the house clean, reading before bed, walking every day, doing squats in front of the TV, making time for my loved ones, catching a quick half-hour here and there to doodle in my scrapbook and be creative for creativity’s sake, AND trying to keep up with the latest Netflix crazes. And yet, it’s never enough. There’s always more I should’ve done, and more I have to do.
The guilt is a nasty, incessant voice, a sharp tap on the shoulder – always sucking the joy out of happy moments. You shouldn’t be enjoying this. There’s more to do. You’re not worthy.
In this day and age of hyper-busy, endless activity, even ‘downtime’ has been hijacked. Rather than relaxing, we use time off for forward planning, vision boarding, life mapping, intention setting, and all kinds of self-development. Even play is guilt-inducing – we’re not doing enough or we’re not doing it right. Adult colouring is firmly in, knitting seems to be out. And spiritual practice has become a competitive sport: you’re drawing oracle cards every morning, worshipping at a Pinterest-worthy altar, and mapping your menstrual cycle against the moon, right?! Um, no.
Look, I’m not advocating we throw our hands in the air, stop juggling, and let this stuff fall to the floor. In fact, in moderation, all of these pursuits are great and enriching and important. I actually LOVE this stuff – even (in fact, especially) the woo-woo bits! In a recent epiphany, I realised my all-or-nothing attitude is actually the problem. Isn’t it always? For me, resistance arrives smack-bang when my A-type tendencies reach breaking point. It’s exhausting trying to do all of the things, all of the time, and do them perfectly. If only someone would pass me a chill pill, and remind me to calm the flip down. Daily.
George MacDonald said, “Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”
And, by George, he totally got it. For me, it’s still a work in progress. But I’m getting there.
On a recent walk home from the supermarket (combining shopping for healthy food with exercise with outdoors time – tick, tick, tick!), I took a shortcut across a grassy hill overlooking the sporting field near our home. And, inexplicably, I found myself dropping my shopping to the ground and plonking my butt down on the grass. I leant back, grass tickling my elbows, the afternoon sun warming my back, and watched as an old man walked slow, steady laps of the oval below. Thoughts came and went, I resisted the urge to take my phone out of my pocket, and my ego had a fair old crack at me. What the heck are you doing? Get up! Get moving! You’re wasting time! But, soon enough, it all just dissipated. A soft breeze whispered through the grass. The clouds rolled gently by. And, in that moment, I finally got it.
For fifteen minutes, I stopped, I sat, I did absolutely nothing. And in the silence and stillness, I realised something profound. Life keeps us busy with career plans, projects, mortgage repayments, renovating, hobbies, diets, family, friends, and fashion trends. But, really? There is no race. No summit. Nothing to do, and nothing to prove.
Here I am. Here you are. And, just by breathing, just by being, we are already whole.