I spend my whole day rushing around doing things. I spend all week doing things so that the weekend can come so that I can spend it rushing around doing the things I think I actually want to do. Or, as was the case this weekend, not doing anything in particular, leaving my diary open in order to just relax and have some space and time for myself. And what do I do with that time? I move, from here to there, from there to here. I sit, I walk, I stand. All day I move. I complain of being busy, complain of having too much to do and not enough time to do it in and then I complain of having nothing to do and too much time on my hands.
Yet, when a moment appears in which there is nothing to do, nothing to distract me from being where I am, I immediately look for something else to do. And I’ve trained myself so well in doing, that it is easy to find another thing to do, call a friend for a chat, make tea, drink tea, eat, read, sleep, browse the internet, watch endless youtube videos, the list is endless and can go on for hours, days if necessary.
These distractions make up my daily life outside of work. And even at work, if I look carefully at my productivity, when there is a moment where I don’t know what my next task should be, I just move on to something, anything to move away from this empty moment of not knowing and of not doing.
In that fraction of a second I reach for something, and almost anything will do. Pema Chodron talks about airplane journeys and what would happen in that hour and a half if the entertainment system broke down and we had to actually sit with ourselves for that time. We’ve forgotten our books, the TV doesn’t work and there’s no food on the plane. We’d probably all just fall asleep in order to not have to sit with the boredom of that hour and a half.
When I have nothing to get up for in the morning, nothing to do, it is easier to sleep longer. This morning I woke up with a feeling of dread. That feeling of having nothing to do, and feeling like I was forgetting to do something. But it is the feeling of being bored that makes us constantly turn to forms of entertainment. And there is nothing wrong with entertainment itself or with being entertained.
But when we rush from one thing, into the next, not even aware that we are running from ourselves then are we really living our lives fully? Are we aware of ourselves?
I used to think that the point of watching myself and my restless behaviour was to see how unproductive I was being and therefore I would be able to remove the distractions and the things which were not necessary, like the endless video watching on youtube. But now I don’t think the point is to remove distractions, that will take care of itself in the long run. So for now I’m just watching myself. Being aware of what arises and seeing my response to it.
Isn’t that the point of yoga? To show us where we get caught? To make us aware of the stories we tell ourselves and our reasons for doing and giving up? It’s like vipassana meditation but with movement and stretching.
As I close the internet panic grips me, what shall I do now? I’ve nothing to do until I go to my yoga class tonight. There’s two hours to go before the class starts how will I fill the time? So I open a word document and begin to write… Writing’s something I enjoy, it’s something productive, something worth doing. But as this piece comes to an end worry arises in me, because what will I do next? It’s not taken me two hours to write this…