Striving to Non-Strive

If you’re like me, you often feel the struggle of the 100 things you “could” or “should” do and the desire to just do nothing.  That’s right now for me. Well, not that writing is nothing. But it’s not sorting through the boxes of Christmas decorations that I didn’t use to better store them and maybe even cull a la Marie Kondo. It’s also not going through the massive pile of the kids’ art and memorabilia that I have stuffed inside a triathlon transition bag (read: giant backpack) only to have it grow with each week.  It’s funny. It’s not like I think that everything my children create is worthy of saving for life. I just have a hard time picking which things to keep. And in the occasions when I have been caught throwing something away, they feel so badly.  I get reactions that are sadder than when Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win the Oscar for Titanic. Yeah. That bad.  But here I go digressing. You get my point. There’s always something to do.

It’s snowing out. It is sort of the first snow we have had in Chicago to speak of this winter. We weren’t in town the first time it snowed over Thanksgiving.  The other times we have just had a smattering. Right now, it’s coming down at a decent clip. There’s probably about an inch on the ground. One couldn’t help but know that it was going to snow today because the news has covered it like it is a visit from the Pope. It is January in Chicago. The idea that it would snow and accumulate should not be surprising.  I’m sitting in our front room watching it come down and seeing the occasional person bundled up pass by. It’s nice not to be out there. There is something peaceful about watching snow come down. The way it gently dots the sky or how it is taken by the occasional breeze.  A swirl here, a gust there as each flake finds its place to ultimately land – a roof, a tree branch, a sill, the sidewalk.  There is a certain peace when it is snowing; a sort of calm. It’s typically quiet. The only sound really being a car slushing through the wetness on the street. Or after a while, the scrape of a shovel on the concrete. I like the quiet. It brings with it a certain ease, a permission to do less. Even within the house, it’s a more palpable calm. It’s almost as if the act of snowing slows everyone down in some magical, mystical, atmospheric way. 

I am trying to make more space in my life for non-striving. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness guru, defines non-striving as “trying less and being more.” This is super hard to do in today’s world. In fact, while I am thinking I am non-striving by not doing the 100 things on my to do list, I am in fact still striving because instead of just sitting, instead of just being, I am writing. For me, this is cathartic and in a way, a form or meditation. But I am still doing something. I am not just being. Whether we realize it or not, this is how most of us spend our day. Some of us are more driven than others – type A people or people with massive goals.  In a sense, one needs to be focused and motivated to achieve big things. However, one also still needs to have downtime, time to recharge, time to reflect. 

I am going to do exactly that now. I will post this article. I will share my thoughts. I will allow them to float out there like the snow flying through the sky now. My words will land in different places all around the world. They will be received and interpreted in different ways. Whoever gets this far will receive my wish for you… I wish you peace. Peace and that you will take a moment today to just be.

Photo credit:  Mircea Iancufrom Pexels

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At-home dad, husband, gay man, marathon runner, sarcastic to the core, off-center

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