In Praise of Sitting

When I was younger, I never sat. Or let me say more accurately, I never rested. I always had an agenda.

Young people can be terribly hard on themselves. In my twenties, I wanted to change the world, be an important writer, really make a difference. Nothing wrong with that. But it made it hard, sometimes, to enjoy a meandering conversation in front of the TV, or a relaxed cup of tea with my husband at the kitchen table.

I was always pushing myself. In my 30’s and 40’s, when my goals seemed less idealistic, I was still chasing a to-do list. Make that new Indian dish, finish my stack of library books, write that letter to the editor, work on my garden, and go for a couple of runs – all before work on Monday.

My goals changed through the years, but never the energy behind them. I was a young, healthy force in motion, staying in motion.

I reflected a little, but it was always with the goal of improving myself, being better, a winner in the game of life. Some might blame my unsettled childhood: making up for lack of friends and stability and self-esteem. Who knows? But I had to cross that imaginary finish line first every time, even in the most mundane arenas.

Then, one day, somewhere in my mid-40’s, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t just go and go all day. I tired easily and developed insomnia. I couldn’t exercise as much I once had. I started reading books about aging and stress and hormones, and became a little depressed. I wanted my old self back, someone I thought I knew.

I learned I had to push myself less and rest more. I wasn’t happy about it at first, but I took the opportunity to learn some meditation, learn to sit in a room and do nothing.

And I really liked it. In fact, I loved it. As I sat, I glimpsed the bright recesses of my being, I found a core of love and peace, something that didn’t need fixing, just a little compassionate attention.

About 5 years have passed, and I still rest between tasks and take some down time every day.  My health has returned and I don’t take my strength and energy for granted anymore.  I have learned that stress will take it’s toll on all of us eventually, if we don’t make time to live off the clock sometimes:  to laugh and love and relax without an agenda.

Now in my early 50’s, I am looking forward to the adventures ahead. I have found a new normal: a place that honors the goals I have for myself, but also appreciates the stillness, the beingness that has no goal but love. I now seek a mixture of work and play, striving and rest, with time to reflect on the person within and all that she is.

Young At Heart

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Can I Accept Myself As a Baha’i?

I am a Baha’i, a lover of mankind, but it’s not always easy, because I am an introvert. My faith is about world peace and world unity, yet I don’t want to leave my house sometimes. I love my fluffy red robe a little too much on the weekends. Is this a contradiction?  I’m not sure.

Yet when I do go out, I have a friendly word for everyone I meet. And when I pray, I wish love and compassion for all, and feel myself connected to all things.

I think the real issue is whether I accept my introverted nature as a valid temperament created by God, or whether I feel the need to be someone different than who I am.

I chose the former.  Why?  Because it is very difficult to change ourselves, and because I chose the belief that I am a unique flower in God’s garden of humanity.   Every flower is different and adds to the beauty and diversity of the whole.  I will live as a self-affirming person and glory in my individuality, a unique part, connected to all in love.

And I will vow to change out of my robe by noon.

Un/Faithful