Why Did You Do That?

I’m more likely to think about the meaning of Memorial Day, as opposed to Labor Day, but mostly those holidays exist as bookends to June, July and August. A three day introduction to the summer and a three day wrap up, usually with a sale on school supplies and computers. Even though my adult schedule doesn’t look much different in the summer, I still hear James Taylor in the background singing “Summers Here” when the neighborhood kids get out of school. Who doesn’t love to kick back a little?

The truth is we spend most of our year on the move, conjugating the verbs: to do, to want and to have. But what about to be? Is that relegated to a week’s vacation in the summer? (I’m not even sure, frankly, that one week is enough time to be… it takes a few days to slow down, sleep in and linger over morning coffee. You know, talk to the person in the rocking chair beside you).

But it’s September now, summer is over, and I want to talk about to do.

I know we are all busy, but if someone asked you “Why are you doing this?” what would you say? The “this” can be anything; in fact sometimes it is simply a situation that emerged in which “this” had to be done and somehow you ended up doing it. But if our actions are perpetually dictated by factors external to ourselves, we end up living reactive lives. Action is simply reaction when it does not come from a sense of who we are and what we want to do, but instead is an anxious reading of how others define us and of what the world demands.

When you get a moment, see if you can define yourself apart from what you do. Then do a little math and figure out what percent of your actions are intentional and authentic, and what percent are what you need to do to hold a job, make a living, satisfy the expectations of others, fill your time, or to evade the fact that you don’t know what else to do.

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