Being, Not Doing, is a Tough Assignment

How to become a human being, not a human doing.

Posted Mar 27, 2015

Source: Hester/morgueFile

My physical therapist gave me a challenging assignment: stop doing so much, lie on a heating pad and breathe deeply. Did she also mean I should stop checking my email, stop going to the Farmers Market, and stop watching Law and Order reruns?

Then, last week I got the flu and was flattened. I lost my voice, was coughing, choking and gasping for air. Each day, I cancelled my appointments for the next. I lay in bed, napped, drank cups of hot tea with local honey, read Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast. I watched Hannah and Her Sisters for the sixth time and, yes, Law and Order reruns.

Despite my desire to push forward, I had no choice but to stop. My life was not stress-free, but close. People actually continued to take actions outside my control, sometimes with results I liked, sometimes not. I discovered that with three well-placed emails a day, I could keep the ball rolling on important projects, though every email began with how sick I was and that this was the last action I could take on this project until I felt better. Naturally, I sent another email the next day to roll the ball a little farther, even though I wasn’t yet well.

I showed up for a workshop I was scheduled to teach, and crouped my way through. The students commiserated, murmured about how dry it is in California and how much pollen is in the air. They gave me great evaluations, so we all left happy.

Then I came home and crawled back into bed with my cup of tea, my books and my remote. The only time I went outside was to turn off the automatic sprinkler, which goes on whenever it feels like it. I guess we have our wires crossed.

I’m getting better, but I like this “hands off” life. While it’s been impossible to breathe deeply, I’m sure this “time out” has been good for my soul.

Writing prompt

What did you do today to be a human being instead of a human doing?

Copyright © 2015 by Laura Deutsch