Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nothing Days are Productive Days

I recently had a day where I did nothing.  The entire day passed with reasonable activity but nothing I would have remotely classified as an accomplishment. Read a novel, walked my dog, went for a run, shopped for a new recipe I wanted to make. I had fun that day, no doubt about it but when it was over I had a sense that I had wasted it.

So how do we determine what is a productive day and what is not a productive day. Is it a list item that gets ticked off the never ending list?  Is there a monetary association with anything that gets classified as productive? As in, if I did not make money then it was not a productive day? Maybe it involves moving a project forward in a significant way. But this one leaves us open to believing that we did not accomplish anything, if we tried something new, but it did not work out.

Sometimes there is a monetary association with accomplishing something.  This is easy to classify as an accomplishment.  I went to work and made $$ so I accomplished something today.  What about exercising?  I went for a run or worked out and so I accomplished something today. Those are easy.

What if we redefined a productive day as one which allowed us to heal our mind and our body?  Then a whole other group of activities suddenly become relevant. In that logic do our workday activities then qualify as part of a productive day?  Probably not. 

Does sitting by the fire reading a great book qualify as an accomplishment?  You bet. Taking a long walk on a sunny breezy day also qualifies as an accomplishment if our goal is to heal our mind and body.  Creating healthy food qualifies as an accomplishment. Spending time with those you love becomes an accomplishment rather than something that gets squeezed in on the list. Trying something new, regardless of the result, becomes an activity worth pursuing.

There is no doubt that going to work and doing other things that we don't prefer needs to be done. But if we start with the definition of a productive day as one that heals our body and our mind then it can inspire all kinds of healing activities to hit the list. Getting more done at work takes a second place to a walking break in the middle of the day.

We need to know that healing days are not wasteful days. Idle times refresh our souls. Time spent doing things that nourish our souls, helps us to expand and grow.  And in this growth we become more than we were.  And more than we thought we could be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Humans on the Beach

The birds line up on the beach in perfect formation every day.  I have tried to figure out a rationale for why they do this.  They all face the same way and stand stoically facing into the wind.  They seem to have predesignated spots and they all know where they belong. I wonder what they are doing and how they know when to stand and when to fly off together at the same time? 

I was walking along the beach in St. Petersburg today and I had a few insights that I would like to share.  The first one is if an alien landed on the beach what would they think all these people, who are walking the beach, were doing?They would think we were a strange species and wonder what the purpose of this mass activity was. Just like me as I observe the birds.

The second thing that strikes me is that despite the number of hotels and increasing number of people on the beach, it remains pristine, clean and indistinguishable from a beach that would be vacant.  It is a beautiful beach and the numbers of people who use it does not change that wildness and beauty. It is a great testament to the intermittent altruism of the human race.

Thirdly, I have been walking on the beach every day.  Today was cold as far as beach days here go and there were far fewer people willing to brave the beach.  The wind blew hard and cold, relatively speaking, and the beach was wild and desolate and might even be disturbing to some.  I found it to be nature at its finest and although I wore a couple of sweatshirts and pulled up the hood, I still braved the beach at it's wildest.

This was my observation while I walked the beach that morning.  The few remaining people who came out showed a distinct level of camaraderie with each of the other brave souls on the beach.  This camaraderie exists on warm calm days but not in the same way.  It passes as a head nod on warm days.  Or the odd wave.  But today people spoke and stopped like we knew each other.  We shared a thought with every passer by.  It was uniquely different than all the other days out there.  I felt like part of a group who was uniquely capable of some sort of achievement that became a point of commonality between strangers on the beach.  There was no age or gender distinction just us and them.  Funny comment on our humanness.  When things are difficult we organize and align ourselves with each other.

Small microcosm of human behavior where in the bigger picture we have survived through the ages by grouping together to defeat a common foe.  When things are most difficult in the bigger scheme of things we help each other and we make connections that we might otherwise disdain or worse, ignore.

We are a funny race, we humans aren't we?  Maybe I just need to get back to work really soon.
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