It wasn’t that long ago when the promise of “advanced technology” created hope for a time when we could do less and relax more. We placed a premium on leisure time then. It was free time, not “busy” time, that conferred status.
We are no living in that long-awaited time of “advanced technology,” but leisure time is no longer valued in the same way.
One of the first questions we ask people when we meet them is “what do you do?” or “how do you do?”
The expectation placed on us is that we prove our worth and our value by doing things. If you’re not doing something, people might wonder what’s wrong with you. Do you have a disability? Are you sick? Incompetent?
In the United States, even when employees received paid vacation time, they leave most of it unused. People commonly boast about how busy they are, as if busy was a sign of importance. Even kids are typically kept “busy” with schedules of after school activities
The world we live in today is a consequence of the premium we have placed on doing. We have forgotten how to be. We’ve lost our understanding of the value of rest. Stillness and silence are often uncomfortable; maybe even painful. Doing has become a habit, a way of escaping the rest and recharge that we so desperately need.
Even under stay-at-home orders, many of us continue this endless pursuit of doing, viewing it as an opportunity to do even more.
To be clear: I’m not saying “doing” is bad. This is not an all-or-nothing. But we are, collectively, very good at doing, we are weak in being.
Rest is a skill that is vital for our survival. Rest is not a luxury afforded those who finish their work; it’s a necessity if we are to do the work at our highest capacity.
It’s time we start valuing rest equally, giving it recognition, spotlighting people who model this skill well.
Perhaps we should rethink our standard opening line and ask “how do you be?”