I recently simplified my life. The superficial, corporate explanation is that I wanted to work less and spend more time with my family. That’s all true but behind it is the perennial tension between being and doing.
Thomas Merton and Wei Wu Wei both explored this apparent dichotomy in the 1950s. The latter noted, “Doing is an avoidance, an escape, a running away from Reality.”
And Merton observed, “We do not live merely in order to ‘do something’—no matter what. … On the contrary, some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual.”
So when people ask me what I’m going to do with my newfound time, the answer is that I plan to be, which is different than passivity and idleness. ✸