Don't Just Do Something, Stand There

I'm inclined towards movement. 

If someone spills orange juice, I'll be up grabbing paper towels. If I've got a problematic email, I want to answer immediately and be done with it. If you have lower back pain, I've got four stretches, a book, and a crackerjack chiropractor to recommend. 

It's true that certain moments call for urgent action. Overflowing toilets need to be plunged and fires need to be put out. 

But many moments whisper for something more subtle. They are the moments that ask we do nothing but be fully in them. 

The friend in pain who doesn't need our solutions, but our ear. The troublesome voicemail that's tempting to react to with high emotion, but calls for the thoughtful response that only comes after reflection.

The inclination towards movement is, I think, a normal human lean towards fixing. Problems can be so hard to be with. And our society prizes decisiveness and plans. 

But there's a wisdom that awaits us on the other side of reactivity. It's a wisdom borne of being fully in the moment, with all its discomfort and uncertainty. And trusting that if a response is needed, a creative, generous one will become available to us when the muddy foment of reactivity has settled.

This has been a doozie of a practice for me. My solve, mend, make-it-go-away muscles are buff and raring to go. My approach is to gently nod to those muscles that want to fix the future, then shift my focus to the present. I can't always do it. When I can, though, I'm amazed at the unexpected insights that often emerge. 

So what I'm learning is that sometimes it's a powerful choice to not just do something, but stand there. 

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