Journeys: Be and Do

One of major crossroads in human life that we might look at and call “spirituality” includes all the places that bring us to this consideration:  what is the difference in what I do and who I am?

We do live in a culture–perhaps even a world–where what we do takes precedence over most all other considerations.  We ask this question of new people that we meet:  so, what do you do?  We mean by that: what job do you have?  How do you earn a living?  Even that second question implies doing over being, doesn’t it?  How do you earn a living?  By that, we don’t really mean what the words say, do we?  Do we really believe that a person must EARN the right to LIVE?  But we say that.  We mean:  how do you get money to pay for your home, food, clothing, medical care, entertainment, etc.  Our lives become connected episodes of doing things.  As I write this, I’ve just engaged in a series of doing things:  showering, dressing, making coffee, emptying the dishwasher, putting clothes into the washing machine.  Soon, I will make my lunch, pack my work items, load them into the car, drive to work. Once at work, I will engage in a stream of things that I do all of which are required of me as a teacher or a department chair any one of which could jeopardize my job if I don’t do them.

Doing things is an incredibly important part of my life.  So, really, isn’t all the DOING what it means to be human?  Or is there a BEING about life that matters, too?  I think there is, of course, or I wouldn’t be attempting to express this difficult matrix of DO and BE here. Before any of the things I DO today, I already AM someone, a BEING.  Who I AM informs and shapes how I DO what I DO.  I DO the things I DO in the way that I do them because of who I AM.  I think the quality of the things we do are colored, shaped, and changed by who we ARE–that is, if we allow that BEING matters.

Where, then, today, does who you ARE take notice–within you, around you, as part of each act of DOING?  This crossroad of DOING and BEING is about nothing less than the dignity and worth that belongs to your life.  Find some ways today to notice, to speak about it, to name it even if for yourself, and then watch what happens to the things that you do.

Bob Patrick

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