In a diary I wrote 8 years ago, I described how my Siamese cat Coe (the cat who came to the hospital and took me to the world of the dead) reacted when he saw me rushing around, doing all the everyday chores of life, the kinds of things that seem so important at the moment but which turn out to be so utterly trivial later. These are the types of activities that tend to take up our time even more than usual during the holiday season.
In 2000, I wrote, "[Coe] taught me not to get too stressed- out. So many times I would be bustling about the house, doing yet another chore, and I would pass him as he lay stretched out in a sunbeam. He would look up at me disdainfully, as if to say, ‘What’s the rush?’ I still try to remember this lesson."
We were babysitting a toddler recently, and I noticed how BUSY he was, as if there just wasn’t enough time in the day for him to complete everything he needed to do. The ironic thing was, he didn’t NEED to do anything except sleep, eat and poop in his pants. His "busyness" was simpy him copying what he saw the adults around him doing.
When we meditate, one of the main things we do is to sit quietly so that we can LISTEN to all the thoughts whirling around in our heads. Instead of deep, philosophical insights, most of us find that there’s an amazing amount of "trash" or "mental busyness" up there. We can’t always empty it that trash, but we can disassociate ourselves from it and nudge our minds on to something more important.
In some ways, being busy is a similar way to avoid doing what’s important for our bodies, this time. If we didn’t have anything it that was vital to accomplish, it would be so much better to bask in a nearby sunbeam until we had the opportunity to do something that really made a difference (and maybe we could get some better thoughts into our heads at the same time). But too often, we don’t know what’s important until we’ve already done it and we see the results, months or even years later. So we stay blindly busy, hoping to stumble into doing something that matters.
When we came out to Hollywood, I was amused to find that the entertainment business works the same way. In our business life, we are constantly "taking meetings." Most of these are a complete waste of time and never lead to anything. Sometimes when we’re in one of these, I look around the room and notice that every single person there seems to be baffled as I am, including the people who CALLED the meeting in the first place, as if we’re ALL wondering what the heck we’re doing there. But people out here continue go to lots of meetings, in hopes that one of them will eventually pay off.
I’ve often suspected that other types of big business, including the government, are run along similar lines. It’s not yet Christmas, but I’ve already made my New Year’s resolution. A few weeks ago, I had an enlightening thought (was I basking in a sunbeam at the moment?) so I wrote it down on a post-it note and stuck it in my desk drawer. It says: "LLF," and is a reminder to me to "Let life happen." By that I mean that I want to try to experience life, rather than control it. I want to enjoy it as it flows by and I stick my toe in it now and then, rather than to (futilely) try to dam it up or control its route.
I have to admit I haven’t had much success with this new resolution yet. Maybe it’s like my poor attempts at meditation: the best can do is be AWARE of my useless "busyness." Maybe I’m not wise enough to change it, but at least that’s better than being blindly busy like that toddler (or at least I hope so).
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.