Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Can't I Sit Still?

I finished the first draft of the manuscript for my new book on Friday (more to come on this fruitful journey and the gifts that came from the last several months). In many ways, the work is just beginning, but I’m committed to stopping to smell the roses whenever I can.

To celebrate and reconnect, my family headed down to Port Aransas on the Texas coast, for a weekend of doing nothing. At least that was the idea.

Even though I love to sit, relax and just listen to the ocean waves, I had a hard time just being.

When my husband put down a Mexican blanket for us on the beach (my ten-year-old son and his friend swam everyday we were there, even though the water was 60 degrees), I started doing yoga. And when we headed to the south jetty to look at the jellyfish, I brought my small Moleskine notebook and a pen in case I thought of new ideas to incorporate into the book. In the early evening, I invited the guys to sit out on the condo porch with me and watch the sun set—while I flipped through an old National Geographic.

Why is it so hard to just sit and do nothing. No thing. Not one thing. For me, yes—I’m a big idea girl and am constantly envisioning, dreaming and imagining—but I think it also ties back to my old habitual thinking around productivity=worth (read more).

I watched myself this weekend without judgment, more with amusement than anything else. (My husband came up with a new career for himself: he’s so good at resisting the compulsion to “get busy” that he’s going to become a presence coach and offer to sit with people like me who feel the drive to multitask and help us do nothing; he’s guessing he could charge $100/hour for this. What do you think?!)

I know that the desire to do more than one thing at a time is common for many of us and it’s a rare bird—like my beloved—that can sit and stare out into nature without feeling the need to pick up shells or brainstorm on places he’d like to visit. But, I can’t help but notice  how multitasking makes me feel (speeded up, tight, constricted, less open to solutions, less connected to others). And not just while it’s happening, but for hours and days later.

This week as I return to hundreds of unopened emails from the last two months and reply to a long stream of requests, I’m going to build in short spells into my day where I literally do nothing.  Feel free to join me if you're free--I'd love the company.

P.S. I guess my intention last week to remain curious paid off! I've received a lot of new insights this week.

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Video:  The Gulf of Mexico, Port Aransas, Texas.

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