I've never taken a more difficult course than the one I've had to sit through this week. An advanced course in the discipline of "Sit-Still-ology". Never heard of it? Most people, I think, avoid it like the plague.
The flu has knocked me out for the past 4 days. I went to school on Monday, but have been home suffering through different (each uniquely unpleasant in their own special way) phases of this seasonal virus, ever since then. And because of that, I've had a lot of unexpected time on my hands.
At first, that seemed a blessing...a boon...a reward, secretly savored...kinda like this...
My mind tells me: "Yeah, I know it's no fun feeling achy and blowing your nose every 5 minutes. But guess what you get to do! You don't have to go to work! You get to take naps! You even get to spend all day fiddling around on Facebook, if you like!" And at first, that seems fun.
Everyone likes to play "hooky", every now and then!
So I did all of the above. And I read and read. And I drank cups of hot tea. And I said "Thank you veddy buch, Sweedie", to Deborah when she brought me bowls of wonderful homemade soup. I was the "Emperor of Easy Street", resplendent in my regal uniform - my bathrobe.
But after two days, my "paradise" of ease had begun to turn into a prison.
"The only thing wrong with doing nothing is that you never know when you're finished" (Anonymous)
Wasn't that the truth! I began to get bored...very bored. So bored that I was too bored to do anything BUT be bored.
I caught myself pacing around the house, like an animal in a cage.
Sit in the living room...read the newspaper...To the office...check my e-mail...To the bedroom - lay down and read...close my eyes. Try to nap. Up to the refrigerator - what's to eat? Nothing. Should I take the dog for a walk? "No - I'm sick". Back to the office - still no e-mail. I should sit down and write a blog entry. Sit. Get up. Back to the living room... See if I missed anything in the newspaper. Turn on the TV. Nothing on. Turn off the TV. Check e-mail again. None - "Boy - Deborah must be busy at work". Back to the bedroom. Close eyes - still can't nap. Up... And on and on I went.
Looking for something to do. Looking to "fill time". Looking for "my purpose".
Since I was sick, I couldn't rely on the usual activities to provide the answers to these quests. I was left empty. I was left "alone" with myself.
I knew there was something for me to learn in all of this. But I could only learn it, if I was able to get myself to just sit still. You'd think that would be easy, especially if you're sick. But it was quite a challenge. My mind did not want to be still. It did not want to linger in the emptiness. It didn't want to dare to gaze into the "abyss" of a day in which it didn't know itself or what it's "purpose" was. And it certainly didn't want to see all the empty things it was choosing to fill itself with.
But stop I did. Finally. And when I was willing to just sit, and let all the rushing thoughts and impulses just wash by me, like the waves around my feet when I was a little boy, I finally heard what Life was inviting me to do.
I went for a walk outside. I enjoyed the crisp, cool air. And I remembered to bring my camera, so I could take pictures of the beautiful leaves on the trees in the neighborhood. I had been meaning to do this for weeks! (but had always forgotten to bring my camera and said "Next time"). For once, I remembered. And here was the reward for finally "sitting still":
"There is nothing as certain as silence, stillness, and solitude to introduce you to the secrets of yourself." (Guy Finley)
I'm grateful for the reminder today to just slow down, especially mentally. To work to step out of the mechanical race to "find myself" in the constant stream of thoughts, worries, plans, and fears that fill my days.
There's an entirely different and beautiful world just waiting for me if I will.
You want proof?
A picture's worth a 1000 words. :-)