Week 3: Being Still

According to the rules of my New Year’s Resolution, I’m meant to be doing for others what I would want done for me. This *should* be easy, right?

Surprise surprise, this has become an increasingly mindbending endeavor.

This requires a clarity of thought that I don’t often have in abundance. “What would I want done for me?” is a question that quite often leaves me cold.

“Why? Why do I not know what I would want done for me?” This has become my refrain. Now I find myself in a kind of paralysis to act, where before I might have just acted out of habit or expectation or perceived urgency.

Unraveling this particular ball of yarn has been keeping me busy.

There is inherently the idea that I should be doing something. And maybe that is my first big error in thinking. Maybe this inability to determine what I would want done for me is because I am seeking to act in situations which do not require my action.

Being still and not taking any action is a very scary thing. It means we have to sit with our thoughts and self-judgment, particularly that self-judgment that tells us that we should always be doing something, because our worth is measured by what we do.

This idea circles around to something I have been trying to learn to do since I became a parent: learn to be quiet. The parenting method we tried to adopt for our children advised us to be observant, to be a presence, but to allow the children to pursue what interested them as they developed. This meant not intervening while they would try to stack blocks, and even (and this was very very very difficult for a natural born cheerleader) not to praise them every time they did something new.

But the hardest part was the silence: not interrupting their creative elan when they were concentrating. Not asking what they were doing. Letting them learn to ride the wave of their own thought processes.

This week, I am coming to grips with the fact that maybe I don’t know what I would want done for me because maybe what I really, deeply want is quiet and stillness and to ride the wave of my own thoughts uninterrupted.

The urge to “encourage”, which is, in and of itself a laudable impulse, has often been my go-to “action”. “When in doubt, encourage,” right?

But have you ever been on the receiving end of well-intentioned but uninformed encouragement? The kind that makes you feel pity for the person who is trying to give it to you because they are missing a whole piece of the puzzle that isn’t within your purview to disclose? Yet again, I would prefer silence.

So as I start winding back up this ball of yarn, I see that perhaps it is less that I don’t know what I would want done for me, and more, what I would want is that nothing be done for me.

Learning to listen to this call to refrain from action is like learning to recognize different bird calls. It’s not my language, I will never be able speak it, nor be understood in it. But it is an exquisite reality that makes all of life more beautiful.

Episode 63: Foresight Sing With Your Feet

This week, we look at how we can love ourselves better by planning ahead.
  1. Episode 63: Foresight
  2. Episode 62: Memory
  3. Episode 61: Novelty
  4. Episode 60: How to Have Great Sex
  5. Episode 59: I Have A Theory

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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