The Other Half of Life
Action is a favorite word in today's world. You, we, they need to do this, that and the other for survival, happiness, success and endless other purposes. Doing something, anything, seems essential. Whatever the consequences? Wait a minute. Don't we need to balance doing
with the other half of life--reflecting, thinking, listening?
So "Being Still," the theme of this issue's SoulfulLiving, challenges us to review what "being still" means or might or should mean in our human lives.
Clearly, it doesn't mean total individual inaction, which anyway is impossible in terms of physics and chemistry. But in terms of our understanding and our wellbeing, it does mean distinguishing between moving in some direction just for the sake of moving
and moving in order to achieve an objective, a thoughtful purpose.
To make that distinction, the teachings of this and every age of history remind us that we need to stop moving from time to time. We need to take our bearings, to scout the terrain, check our objective and, above all, take stock of our resources.
I'm reminded of the extraordinary journey in the 1840s of the first immigrant train to travel from early settlements in Kansas all the way across to the fertile coast of California. With no reliable maps to follow, the travelers persisted for month after
month--across the plains, through one range of mountains, across a searing desert, then over a second, even higher mountain range. Starting out in wagons and in the saddle, they reached their destination finally in bare feet.
Almost every one of hundreds of daily stops meant a time of reckoning and inspiration for the next day's push forward.
For us, in our daily travel through life, the lesson of that first immigrant train can be an education, a lesson in balancing action with reflection. It was a lesson imposed on them by the sheer need to survive and achieve their objective. Maybe we need
to remind ourselves of it for our own sake. We need to be still as well as active.
An often quoted Psalm of David, tells us, "Be still and know that I am God." It's the instruction that follows a list of the deity's many blessings on humanity. And it can inspire us as much at it did the prophet.
We need to be still if only to succeed in our life's ventures as the migrants to California succeeded in theirs. But how to be still? That can challenge us.
In today's parlance, we are told to "relax." To begin to do that, to be still, surely we need just to stop whatever we're doing. It requires us to tell ourselves to cease, quit, sit, lie down and simply halt whatever has had us in action. Just uttering a
simple, one word command--silent or aloud--can help. Just saying, "STOP!"
Then what? I think that's what each of us has to discover for ourselves. When we're in the "stop" mode, it suits some of us to do nothing--just absolutely nothing we're conscious of. It will suit others to go through a list of target thoughts, as if
seeking what might prompt an answer to reflect on, evaluate and decide on.
Those of a "do nothing" disposition probably, in a way, are invisibly cupping their ears for whatever silent instruction they may be getting from a source that inspires them. For them, the key word probably is something like "wait," or "patience," or
perhaps even "blank"--counting on an inspiring source to instruct them.
The "search" folks among us probably think it's best to provide an inspiring source with prompts. If they methodically go down a list of alternatives to help them, they hope--or know--that one will "click."
Whichever method of reflection we use, we are instructed by all experts in this matter not to push for an answer. We pray, we ponder, we prompt, but we don't persist. Any higher intelligence we want to instruct us has its own way to do that. We run our
problem or desire past it, clearly and specifically, and know, truly trust, an answer will come to us somehow, some time. We state our case, say, "Thank you very much,” and stop being still.
Our daily round of action resumes, life goes on--one way or another. Until it's time for our next call to stop, to be still. Just never, ever, push it, we're told. Fair enough.
©Copyright 2005 Hubert
Pryor. All Rights Reserved.
Hubert Pryor is a retired editor of national
magazines--Modern Maturity and Science Digest among
others--Hubert Pryor is the author of SOUL TALK:
Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around
(available through DeVorss & Co., 553 Constitution
Ave., Camarillo, CA 93012, 800-843-5743, www.devorss.com)
and a forthcoming book, SERENITY 101: Spiritual
Wisdom, Ancient and Modern, for Peace of Mind Today.
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