When people ask me what it was like to spend four days and nights on my own in the desert, I sense from both them, and myself, a kind of expectation around providing a story; some start to finish tale of adventure and peril. Surprisingly enough, while there are lots of “stories” to be told, not only am I not inclined, I see that any story that I could tell would not come close to the most astonishing parts of the experience; that being the way it changed me. More to the point, returned me; to myself and to the permission to just be.
What continues to surprise (while simultaneously carrying such a natural and familiar feel to it all) are the invisible, yet palpable, inner shifts that often defy words or explanations. As a matter of fact, none of the most noteworthy of changes seems to require recognition, validation, or proof from either others or myself. And while I can feel tectonic-level shifts within, there is this quality of nothing to do, or work on, in the midst of quite a lot happening.
This is new to me. As someone who loves to articulate the inner landscape and work on it, as well as being subject to the historical belief that she needs to write a dissertation to prove that she gets to be here and know what she knows, this new way of being brings with it a sense of ease that miraculously happens without the usual effortings on my part.
Looking back on the desert experience, I know where it came from. It came from doing nothing. Literally. For hours and days on end. And while not easy, out of the “nothing” came the gift of knowing that I have a right to just be; without explanation, apology, or trying to convince myself or anyone else of anything. This is every human being’s birth right. The right to just be without needing to earn it or prove it. This is something built in by Existence itself, and it is ours for the taking.
This completely flies in the face of so much of what we believe, what we have been taught, and how we live. Nonetheless, it is true.
Look to your life. Where do you busy yourself as a way of earning your place here? Notice where you think you have to keep up a certain way of presenting yourself or doing so that you will be OK, accepted, safe, guaranteed something, or included. What would it be like if you regularly allowed yourself to do nothing? For starters, and a very rich start at that, you could watch what comes up in your mind to even entertain the idea of doing nothing.