Nothing…and Everything


I remember the first time I read about a saying (more of a philosophy or lifestyle) the Italian’s have: “La dolce far niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing.  It was ages ago when I read Eat, Pray, Love and Liz Gilbert describes the philosophy as the ability to be comfortable doing nothing, knowing you have earned the time to simply be.  Not so much earned, but rather by existence, you have the right to simply be.  The saying was brought up again in my meditation the other day.  Jay Shetty used it in the context of the need to replenish every now and then.  There is such a thing as productive down time.  A necessary respite to recharge, replenish, restore, and rebuild.  In our society we tend to operate under the idea that we need to earn that rest.  But what happens when we hit that wall and keep going?  We struggle, we exhaust ourselves, and we cloud our thinking.  It’s often far more valuable to stop and evaluate than it is to keep pushing.

The other day was simply one of those days at work.  No one is really in the mood to be there right now so the work is becoming careless and people are missing small details or choosing to not do things the way they need to be done.  I privately lost my temper, thinking constantly, “I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this.”  It was horrible, but I pushed myself to the end of the day and picked up the slack from my employees—it wasn’t like I didn’t understand—but it was too much.  I started to single handedly attempt to dismantle the wall we were all facing, and that made it worse.  I got home and I checked my watch and saw my stress level had been in the high range nearly all day.  That was enough for me.  For as often as I talk about doing something else, I have yet to make a plan to move on but seeing my physical reaction and KNOWING how I felt made it clear: this is not for me any longer, at least not like this.

This is important for two reasons.  Sometimes walls or obstacles are redirection.  We are meant to be impeded because we are being directed elsewhere, down a new path, or to a new state of being.  In that moment, feeling that frustration and fear about what to do next companied with the fear of not getting the work done, I simply KNEW.  No one should carry that kind of weight on them.  The other reason is more in line with “La dolce far niente”: sometimes those walls are meant as a place to rest, not to be torn down.  Sometimes we simply have to go with the flow of life and understand that not everyone operates like us.  It was ok for me to take a break too.  I’m only human. I didn’t need to prove that I could do it all when my team wouldn’t.  I needed to stand my ground and accept that what I did was enough. 

When we have those moments when we feel we need to push through, I know our training makes it nearly impossible to stop.  There is no nobility in suffering or in martyrdom.  There is no one at the end of the day who will give you your ultimate score that says, “You’re enough.”  That’s your business with your beliefs.  Remember that living is a rough game at times and we all get caught up in what we think we should do.  It pays to take some time to give people some grace for who they are—and that includes yourself.  You need to know you’ve done enough even if it doesn’t feel like it.  You don’t need to earn your time.  You don’t need to be told when you’re allowed to vacation or what you’re allowed to see or who you’re allowed to spend time with.  Be who you are because you are enough.  You are entitled to your rest, to recharge, to replenish and refill all parts of you.  Sometimes doing nothing is everything.  It’s all for you.

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