Today is a day off for me. I worked all weekend, leading Yoga Teacher Training. One of my self-care practices is to take Mondays off after teaching on the weekend.
After dropping the kids off at school, the whole day loomed ahead of me…the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, no kids, no one to look after or take care of.
So what did I find myself doing? I got home, and the first thing I did was make a list of the things I wanted to get done. Putting the house back together was at the top of my list. (I am absolutely, completely grateful to my husband for taking over the childcare duties while I teach a full weekend – but he will be the first to admit the house is a bit of a disaster when I return.) Then the meals planned for the week, the shopping list made, the shopping done, oh and a list of things for work too.
I went about my day, cleaning, picking up, planning, adding to the to-do list, and at a certain point I stopped. Here I was, busy worker bee, doing doing doing, and trying to get my ducks in a row.
Now this is not inherently a problem. I am a mom, a partner in a marriage, a business owner, a teacher, and there is always a long to-do list. Neverending, in fact. I’m sure that whoever you are, whatever roles you have, you can relate. But clearly, I talk and teach all the time about taking time for being instead of doing, and here I was, with a perfectly good day off and I was filling it with doings.
I was reminded of a talk I heard recently, by a meditation teacher I admire. The theme of the talk was simple. It was that we are always, constantly, every moment of every day, trying to get our ducks in a row. We are forever trying to have our lives work out a certain way. In fact, we are constantly trying to have this moment work out a certain way – and when it doesn’t, we are in some state of dissatisfaction.
We spend so much energy trying to get our ducks in a row, and if the ducks are not in a row, we are not okay. We spend immense time and energy wanting this moment to be different. It could be a pleasant moment, and we don’t want to lose it. Or we could already be on to the next thing and not feel present in the experience. Or it could be an unpleasant moment and we try to push it away. We don’t want it to be happening; we do a variety of things to not be in this experience.
It’s not about the ducks.
The truth is, we will never get the ducks in a row. They are constantly arranging and rearranging, getting out of order.
It’s about being ok with the ducks in a row, out of a row, or free of any row altogether.
And I am not even just talking about the external issues – getting my house organized and the bills paid and the kids off to school, the job secure, the retirement account funded, the relationships handled, oh and get to the gym too.
It is the internal issues we are trying to arrange. We want to be calmer, happier, less judgmental, less anxious. Basically, we want to be some other, better version of ourselves.
This endless drive to be better, more, different, is this experience of feeling insufficient. I am not quite enough. This moment is not quite enough.
The practice of mindfulness and yoga, on the other hand, offers rest. Resting in okay-ness, good-enough-ness. An acceptance of ourselves and this moment just as it is.
This doesn’t mean that we condone or accept behavior that is harmful. Sometimes practicing enough-ness means standing up for ourselves or what we believe in. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t work and do things or have goals or clean our house or have a to-do list.
But can we have moments of non-doing? Can we give ourselves moments of letting go of the lists, the arranging and re-arranging? Can we let ourselves rest? And even if this moment is not perfect, can we find an ok-ness in it? In this very moment, can we be ok with this body, this mind, this heart, with the current, momentary circumstances of our lives?
The truth is, they will all change. But right now, can we be enough? Can we trust that this moment is enough?
So when I caught myself in all my doing – my list making and my organizing, my tidying this morning, I paused, and I almost laughed at myself. “Here I am,” I thought to myself, “trying to get my ducks in a row.”
And I got the picking up done, and the shopping done. But I let go of quite a few other things and spent some time reading in my backyard in the sun. And I knew that the ducks would be there tomorrow, the to do list would never end, and I didn’t have to check off every item before I could relax and know that this moment is ok and that I am enough.
This is freedom.