Posted in writing inspiration

The Trouble with Being

cropped-ramonagravitar.jpgMy last post of 2016 was about patience. This post is about another word: being.

You’ve seen the memes:

 Be the change. Be the ball. Just be.

The first – be the change – means embracing activism with action.  Be the change can mean marching on Washington on Saturday. Be the change can mean bringing your own cloth bags to the grocery store. Be the change can mean volunteering at a shelter or running in a charity 5K. Be the change can mean speaking up when a person is bullied about their race, religion, sexual orientation, or appearance. Be the change can mean adopting a rescue animal.

I get the concept of “be the change.” You, yourself, do something that exhibits how you want the world to act or be. Easy peasy.

“Be the ball” means action + desire. I don’t use a lot of sports metaphors, but I understand this one. If you want to be a champion swimmer, “be the ball” means practicing every day until you hit your best. Michael Phelps is the ball. For a wannabe writer, “be the ball” means writing without quitting, despite rejection, outside obstacles, and personal insecurities. JK Rowling is the ball.

“Be the ball” means doing the thing you love, embracing your desires, living the life you wish for. I understand this one, too.

Which brings us to “Just be.”

keep-calm-and-just-be-2979

“Just be” means to slow down. Listen. Feel. Observe. I think that’s what it means, anyway. To be honest, I’m not sure.

I practice being the change in my own relatively small ways, and I work hard at being the ball. But to just be—isn’t that, like, doing nothing?

“Just be” is difficult for people like me who long ago bought into the lure of multi-tasking. “Be the change” and “be the ball” are doing phrases. I can do things. Often, I can do three things at once. I can juggle, delegate, and prioritize. I know how to save time because….

 Time is precious! Don’t waste time! Time is of the essence! Time is fleeting!

These phrases are directly oppositional to the concept of taking time off, taking time for yourself, taking time to just be.

In writing, there’s a plot device called a ticking clock. It is used to give a character a deadline. A fictional ticking clock can mean a bomb will go off if it’s not diffused before the seconds wind down, or a loved one will die if not rescued before a hatch opens and they drop into the ocean.

Ticking clocks are useful in fiction because it ramps up the tension, adds stakes, etc. A ticking clock in real life means making deadlines. My job is ruled by deadlines, and it works, but it’s also tiring. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to do one thing at a time.

This is why “just be” sounds attractive–but despite my resolution, just “being” remains elusive.

So, my friends, how about some help? Who has this “just be” thing mastered? Would you share your wisdom on how to ignore the ticking clock and slow down, listen, feel, observe? I would be most grateful.