When Doing Nothing is Something

I’m a do-er.

Or in Fraggle Rock lingo, a doozer.

Down at Fraggle Rock
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Remember them? Those guys were always busy. Working, moving around,  building things. I never really knew what they were building, or if the work they were doing had any real purpose, but man could they go to town.

In fact, if my sources are correct, these little green guys purposely built their structures out of something the Fraggles liked to eat, basically ensuring that they would never be without work. So their work really had no purpose other than to provide them with a constant stream of something to do.

Sadly, that sounds a lot like me. And I’d venture to say I’m not alone.

We live in a doing world where our actions define us. Think about it. What’s one of the first questions you’re asked when you first meet someone?

“What do you do?”

Not “what do you enjoy?”, “what are your hobbies?”, or even just a friendly “tell me about yourself.” Nope. It’s always “Hello. Nice to meet you. What do you do? 

This question is especially hard for me to answer right now since from the outside I don’t appear to be doing anything. I guess I could say I do a bit of freelance writing, which I do, but essentially I’m unemployed. I have tentative plans to go back to school for a masters degree next fall, but right now? Nada.

Except that’s not really true either. For all intents and purposes it may look that way, but if you could see the work I have to do every day just to stay sane and continually moving toward this thing I call “recovery,” you would think differently. I may not be employed as a doctor, lawyer or teacher, but I’m working my butt off, doing the most important job I’ll ever do, and that’s reclaiming my life, my health and my sanity. I guess you could say I’m taking a sabbatical to focus on ME. Something I’ve avoided for the better part of my life.

Except how do you explain that to someone you’ve just met?

I do wish it didn’t seem so important to people, but it’s only natural when we’re indoctrinated from a young age to believe that what we do is who we are, when really who we are should define what we do. And personally, I’d like to answer that question of who I am before I go off blindly doing other things.

I was thinking about this a couple of days ago after a conversation I had with my therapist. She works a lot with me on mindfulness, and that particular day she asked how I would feel about practicing some techniques to help me bring my anxiety level down. Basically this consisted of sitting still, scanning my body for sensations, and paying attention to my breath. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s not doing anything. When it comes to me and my recovery, I have a tendency to want to get down to work and really get my hands dirty. Let’s tear this sucker out by the roots and be done with it, you know? And yet this lady wants me to sit quietly and notice how I’m feeling? What kind of bullshit is that?

In this case, though, what seemed like doing nothing was in fact just what I needed. When I get anxious and wound up, the last thing I need is to rev myself up even more by being in constant motion. I need to slow down, take a breath, and BE. It sounds simple, but when you’re in panic mode, it can be the hardest thing on earth.

I had a chance to try it out the other day on my own when I was facing some unwanted thoughts. They wanted me to do one thing, but the real me wanted to do something else. So I stopped. And I didn’t DO anything. I just stood there, feeling whatever there was to be felt, and let it be. And you know what? It worked.

Sometimes doing nothing really is the greatest accomplishment of all.




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