We Are Human BEINGS, Not Human Doings
I recently came across a phrase online that won’t seem to leave my awareness. It posed the question, “Are you a human being . . . or a human doing?”
Western society seems to glorify gain and accumulation. The more you have, the wealthier you are. The more you do, the more accomplished you are.
It’s a lie we’ve fallen prey to. It’s a deep abyss, a trap in which once you’ve fallen in, the harder and harder it is to climb and pull yourself back out.
We spend the majority of our lives striving—and this makes sense because the Universe is ever expanding, and so if we are inherently connected to this Universe, then we are also ever expanding. But what if we’ve gotten the ratio wrong between the amount of “doing” and the amount of “being”?
Best-selling author Maria Semple believes that attention span is the new currency. I couldn’t agree more. In a world with technology and cell phones and social media—truly being connected 24/7—I have observed that we are actually the most disconnected we’ve ever been.
There are so many things vying for our attention, and a lot of these things fall into the “doing” category—even if it’s Netflix-and-chill or scrolling social media or shopping online— these may feel like relaxing, mindless activities, but they still belong to the “doing” category.
In the past, my days were filled with “doing”—with a to-do list a mile high and a desire to knock everything out, even at the expense of my health, so that I could wear this imaginary badge of productivity and accomplishment.
But now? Now my days consist of more “being” rather than “doing”, whether that’s swinging in the hammock and looking up at the sky, watching the clouds go by, or sitting on my back patio with the sun shining on my face in meditation, or going for a walk in nature without any form of technology.
Perhaps we’ve just forgotten how to BE. Or perhaps we only know how to DO.
When was the last time you took a day off to not do anything? When was the last time you took a walk or a run just to be in nature, without some tracking device counting your steps or someone yelling in your ear to run faster, to do more, to be better? When was the last time you sat down with a friend or family member sans technology, looked into their eyes, and had a real, raw conversation? Have you ever held the space to just be?
What’s the point in “doing” all of this if you never actually take the time to BE in that success and accomplishment? To revel in it? To be wholly consumed by it? What’s the point in striving for “the next” if you never take the time to enjoy it once you get there?
The way I look at it, our lives are a collection of moments. A series of snapshots in time. At the end of this life, what are you going to remember? Are you going to remember those extra hours you put in at the office to get that report done? Or the pressure you put on yourself to “win” at life with each task you were able to mark off your list and each ladder rung you were able to climb? Or what about the hundreds of hours you spent behind a screen when you have a real-life 3D projection of something BETTER than that screen, just waiting outside your door?
Sure, we remember those things, but they don’t actually mean anything. They don’t hold any weight. And yet THOSE things are what we’re defining our lives by.
It’s said all the time, but it’s the little things that matter. The times we laughed so hard, we couldn’t catch our breath. The times we were held and supported by loved ones when the mountain felt too treacherous to climb. The times we gave ourselves grace because we are, in fact, human.
So my question to you is . . . have you experienced enough little things?
What will your collection of snapshots look like?
Will they consist of rushing toward some invisible finish line?
Or fully embracing the only thing in this life that’s guaranteed?
This moment. Right. Now.
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