Food for Thought: Learning Just To Be

A pot of multi-coloured flowers on a windowsill with a sunny garden visible through the windows.

“Finding the lesson behind every adversity will be the one important thing that helps get you through it.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Somebody tweeted the other day that if we don’t use our time on lockdown to learn a new skill, start a “side hustle” and gain more knowledge, we lack self-discipline.

I have a problem with this kind of thinking.

My bingeing days may be well behind me but, like many people who binge eat, I have a tendency towards busyness and achievement.

Doing a lot is a way of avoiding what’s going on inside us. Keeping busy means we don’t have to spend time with ourselves. We don’t want to stop in case we get in touch with a sense of inner emptiness.

But we don’t repair the emptiness by doing stuff.

We don’t heal with avoidance.

As I’m fortunate not to be on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19, what lockdown has given me is a chance to just be.

When I’m not working, I’m finding myself spending quiet moments.

Without doing.

Without distraction.

In direct contrast to that tweet, I’m managing to push away the part of me that says “you should be doing something” and, for once, I’ve found the permission just to sit with myself.

The sense of pleasure it gives me is bliss.

I don’t want to give you the impression I’m achieving some constant Zen-like state of inner peace. I’m just allowing myself to slow down and be present much more often.

And, when life returns to some sort of normality, I want to ensure I retain these treasured moments.

While there are clearly wider lessons for us to learn at this time, there are small, individual lessons too.

This is mine.

I don’t need a new skill or a side hustle, thanks very much.

I don’t have to be doing.

I’m learning just to be.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2020.

38 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Learning Just To Be

      1. that’s when I start my reply with “And you should really mind your own damn business ..” But that’s just me and I’m a tad bit rude. 😉

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      1. I’m good thanks. I’m doing about twice as much charity work as usual, just contacting more people to check they have groceries/meds. Darned site easier doing it from home, tbh, but I miss my trips to M&S for treats each week! Had to set up Skype on the computer. You still managing to do some things online?

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      2. Yes, seeing all my clients online, with occasional sessions on the phone, and feeling grateful I’m still able to offer support. You sound very busy! Shame the weather’s about to change but hopefully the sun will be back soon.

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      3. It’s still only about a day a week, day and a half, spread over a few actual days. I seem to be a lot more able to cope than some of the clients. I’ve tried to post on WP quite often, any nonsense will do, but I’m starting to be fatigued by that.

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  1. I completely agree with you. There’s a lot to be gained from being still for a period of time. We are more likely to get insight and direction anyway if we can allow ourselves not to be busy and distracted.

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  2. I’m with you. Putting pressure on ourselves can only lead to stress. I’m actually rather enjoying this. The skies are clearer and birdsong is more audible.

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    1. I’ve never noticed the birdsong as much as I do at the moment – it’s just beautiful, as are the blue skies. I’m feeling very lucky to have a garden to sit in and enjoy them both. Many thanks for your comment, it’s lovely to hear from you.

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      1. Thank you, Julie. And you. We have some much needed rain today after a long dry spell. In between the spells of rain the birds are sounding especially happy. I am sitting on the sofa and reading a great book. Bliss!

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      2. That sounds just wonderful! Yes, it’s a bit of a rainy old day here in the UK, isn’t it? But the garden and the birds will be very happy, and it’s a great day to curl up with a good book. Enjoy!


  3. I think during this time we’re meant to be quiet, self reflect and seek joy. We’re too busy all of the time. Someone is telling us it’s time to stop and smell the roses. Wonderful post Julie!

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    1. Exactly that, Erin – it offers those of us who have to stay at home a chance to stop, step back and appreciate the simple things in life – if we choose to take the opportunity. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, I hope you’re all doing well.

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  4. Good reminder, Julie! I catch myself wondering what I’ve accomplished over all these weeks and feeling that it’s not enough. I know it’s not helpful to think that way, but I seem to fall into the same trap over and over, so I appreciate hearing it’s important to take time ‘just to be’. Hope you’re well 🙂

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    1. If I’m not careful I can wake up and immediately spring into that mode of “doing” and it just doesn’t feel great – I’ve learnt that achievement needs to be in balance with downtime but I sometimes struggle to get that balance right for me. I think that’s why allowing myself to stop and just be is so beneficial – emotionally and psychologically. Thanks for sharing your experience, Karen, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person it will resonate with. Hope you’re doing OK.

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      1. Just a few days ago, I wrote myself a note that says, “Mornings are yours, no one else’s,” for exactly that reason! I was jumping into busy-ness too quickly. All is well here – some talk of starting to re-open things but no dates yet, so hopefully it’s not rushed through too soon. Take care 🙂

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  5. Thank you for sharing!.. other than making a few changes to deal with the issue, I really don’t do anything different than in the past… I follow my dreams, sometimes browse memories of history’s past and see if there are any minor changes that I can make to what I am already doing in order to live a better and healthier life… 🙂

    “Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportioned to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I will recall that piece of knowledge and use it better. “ Mark van Doren

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