To Be or To Do, That is the Question
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you have probably picked up on the fact that I speak quite frequently (in perhaps a slightly philosophical and abstract manner) about the importance of reflection and savoring moments of simply “being” in order to fully flourish and thrive in the service of others. Those that know me quite well would probably share that I am quite active in “doing:” writing, researching, serving my community and just recently beginning work as a family medicine resident.
I do a lot. And honestly, I am likely doing too much.
But how do I get so much more accomplished now than when I previously spent more “quantitative” time engaged in “doing” activities without a single second devoted to meditation or a purposeful pause?
I wish I had a strictly logical or rational answer to this question, but the truth, such an answer escapes me
What I can say, however, is this:
We need being, and less doing, to actually do more.
Let’s get one thing straight, there is not and will never be “enough” time in the day for us to satisfy all of our desires or complete all the work (no matter how selfless) we initially planned to accomplish.
In fact, the more you attempt to schedule doing in your life at the expense of time to rest and simply be, you will slowly begin to do less and less, and feel less satisfied even when you have theoretically accomplished “more.”
Rather than start an entirely philosophical discussion trying to make sense of this concept of balancing doing and being, I propose, instead, that we extract practical meaning from this dichotomy of being and doing by addressing two simple, yet surprisingly profound ideas.
From these two statements, it becomes quite clear the we can consciously and unconsciously pursue doing rather than being because we perceive it to be the easier task when it fact doing may actually be beyond our capacity and downright impossible.
Choosing to do because we have “learned” it is likely easier and more rewarding than simply being when it fact, in a particular situation, we may not actually have the means to do anything.
Any situations come to mind where you felt helpless or rushed and tried to do something in order to fill a space or that void of discomfort?
To give a practical example, ask any EMT or Emergency Room doctor about Advanced Cardiac Life Support: the algorithms and process for attempting to resuscitate someone after a cardiac arrest, and what of all the things that are a part of this relatively complicated algorithm actually save lives?
If you guessed the drugs, you are unfortunately mistaken.
Yet, with all the research done showing no actual benefit to the administration of nearly all drugs administered during a cardiac arrest when compared to well performed basic life support including compressions and, if possible, a timely and fortunate electric shock from a defibrillating device, we give the drugs anyway.
Doing because it seems easier than being, even when doing cannot actually be done.
I reiterate this amazing truth in order to bring clarity during those moments of uncertainty, fear or doubt.
No matter the situation,
WE WILL HAVE ALWAYS the capacity TO BE,
but very often
WE WILL NOT HAVE the capacity TO DO.
Yet, paradoxically, it is precisely in the moments where we cannot do, that we choose such a path because simply being seems impossible or entirely unthinkable.
Why exactly during these most difficult of times do we struggle with the decision to do rather than to be, when in reality, there shouldn’t be a decision to make at all?
Now that my friends, is a question worthy of a philosophical discussion.
Have a wonderful week.