As I was mucking stalls last night, sweating and heaving soggy, stinking wads of bedding into the wheelbarrow, I caught myself feeling guilty, almost panicked, that I wasn’t getting enough work done. The anxiety swelled, and somewhere between shovel-fulls I actually heard myself say, “I don’t have time for this! I have work to do!” Oh, dear.
I haven’t written in weeks, there are four massive projects on my desk at home and ten times that on my desk at the office. The house is filthy. I need groceries. I’d like to ride. I need to find a moment to meditate… I could get up earlier! Maybe I could adjust to getting up at 5:00 instead of 5:30? No.
That panic, as foolish as it was, was a serious wake-up call. Once again, I had become little more than a work machine – a “human doing”. Even the things that I love to do, photography, riding, meditating, writing, even these things had become tightly scheduled and monitored, lest they take too much time from the work that needed doing.
One of my favorite lines from Sogyal Rinpoche is this:
Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so there is no time at all to confront the real issues.
How true. And how sad. In my own case, I know precisely the cause of my obsession with doing, and I was delighted to find a very clear article about the nature of this phenomenon. You can read it here if you like.
I googled human being vs human doing, and found dozens of articles and blog posts which provided readers with any number of trite aphorisms and affirmations. I didn’t find any of them potentially life-changing.
This morning, it’s raining. Now, in my book, there’s not much that’s better than a rainy weekend. It’s as though the powers that be have declared a moratorium on yard work and major projects. So, I left a few emails unanswered, picked up my camera, and made my way slowly to the barn to simply sit with the horses for a while.
Although they’re at liberty to go where they like, all three horses were there, just standing. If you haven’t been around horses much, you may not know that they can stand together, simply being, for hours at a time. I turned over a bucket and sat down in the main aisle where they’d gathered.
Gradually, the racing of my thoughts quieted until they were little more than a whisper in the background, like the sound of the slow drizzle on the tin barn roof. The lazy swish of a tail, brushing away a fly, stirred the fragrances of rain, hay, manure, and damp horse. The sound of chewing. Captain turned slowly and walked the few steps to where I sat. He frisked me for cookies with his soft nose. Sitting still, simply breathing with him, I inhaled and exhaled every nuance of his movements.
I sat while the horses stood. Nothing to do, no deadlines, no pressure. Horses have no need whatsoever for distraction. Just being is enough. What wonderful teachers they are.
It has been a long time since I’ve had a community of people to practice meditation with. That’s alright. For the now, I know where to go when I need to remind myself that just to be is enough.
Walking back to the house, the rain was cool on my face. It decorated every leaf and flower with diamond droplets.
Photograph copyright ZenDoe, 2013