Posts Tagged ‘As a child’

Christopher Robin: I like that, too. But what I like most of all is just doing nothing.

Winnie the Pooh: How do you do just nothing?

Christopher Robin: Well, it’s when grown-ups ask, “What are you going to do?” and you say, “Nothing,” and then you go and do it.

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

Winnie the Pooh: I like that. Let’s do it all the time.

(from The House At Pooh Corner)

I lay there on the exercise mat. Flat on my back and looking out the tall tall windows at the fluffy clouds floating by, the contrail of a jet that had just flown over, and at the birds in the bare branches of the tree just outside the right side window. I had not known what to expect when the physical therapist had placed this mat behind the upright bicycle and then carefully demonstrated how he wanted me to position myself on the mat…not just how I was to end up, but the process I was to take in getting from standing behind the mat and beside the bike, to kneeling and then lying on the floor stomach down, placing the left arm overhead, and then rolling over onto my back behind the bike and placing my feet on the pedals of the bike. All in one long slow fluid movement…one movement following and flowing into the next…like a dance. I rather lumpily followed his instructions until, low and behold, I ended up lying on the mat, positioned behind the bicycle.

In this way, I was to bicycle…on my back. The PT, Jon, explained how I was doing a good thing for my body. My spaces between the disks in my back were able to spread out, the spine was perfectly aligned, no pressure on the disks, and no stress on my neck. I had commented that I only needed a book to complete the picture. “You people”, he had said “always wanting to multi-task…that would put stress on your arms and neck.” Appropriately chastened, I immediately understood the truth of his words. So there I lay. I thought to myself, “nothing to do but enjoy the moment”…and I can’t feel guilty about it either…total freedom to enjoy the moment. Free to do one thing and one thing only, free to let my mind go where it would…or nowhere at all. Free to feel the peace that stopping for a moment and observing the beauty of nature always brings. Tim, the assistant, asked if I needed to have the sun blocked. “Are you kidding? I’m totally enjoying the sun!” So there I was (like a cat in the sun, Jon had later commented) enjoying the fact that I had “nothing to do” but lie there and look at the clouds as I rhythmically pedaled the gently whirring wheel of the stationary bike. I could really get used to this sort of therapy!

I thought about how I came to be here. The pain and numbness in my shoulder and arm…coming and going over the last year until the doctor had sent me to try some physical therapy for it and Jon had traced the pain to my neck…though the symptoms were manifest in my arm and shoulder. Living with pain is not a new experience for me. I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 17 years ago and upon learning that it was not going to hurt me to push through the pain, I had (most of the time) learned to push past it and even to ignore it…except on those rare occasions when it became impossible…and then I would almost frantically search for answers. And I had found many of the answers that I needed.

But this pain was different. It wasn’t something that I could ignore and I knew that ignoring it and pushing past it might cause more damage. I was forced to stop and pay heed to what the pain was telling me. The last year had been like a gift to me. My responsibilities at church were less involved than they had been in a long while. I had more time to relax. I spent an hour each morning doing yoga…time for myself to relax and to feel peace. And now this. I had prayed to know what I was to learn from this experience…what was the “gift” I was to find in this trial? The answer had come to my mind almost immediately, “Slow down, feel peace, see beauty, enjoy life…stop rushing past it.” “But…isn’t that what I’ve been doing these last months?”, I thought. I thought that I had been learning those lessons well. We have a relaxed homeschool schedule. We generally keep evenings free with the exception of church related activities (okay, these frequently add up to a busy week…but we make choices and limit our activity where we can.) We always have dinner together as a family…usually the best time of the day where we can connect as a family. As I looked around myself at all the busy people running here and there, I really thought that, comparatively, I already led a pretty peaceful and low-key, sort of life. And yet I felt that the Lord was telling me to slow down? I thought I was slowing down, simplifying, etc. This recent challenge had caused me to discontinue my yoga and violin playing on the advice of the PT until we got things worked out. If I was supposed to slow down, then why had those two things…of all things…two of the things in my life in which I felt that I did slow down and feel peace…why had they been taken from me?  Could it be that I wasn’t really listening? That I wasn’t “getting it”?

I looked back over my notes to myself over the past year…

  • slow down, simplify, do not “run faster”, re-focus
  • focus on fundamentals, avoid over-scheduling, diligence to things that matter most, strengthen marriage
  • God – spend meaningful time alone, be still and know
  • Family – Do simple things together
  • Others – Serve in small and simple ways
  • Self – take time to get to know myself and see myself as God sees me

And a few months later

  • slow down, stick to essentials
  • get to know each child better
  • get to know myself better

Do you ever have “conversations” with the Lord in your mind? I do that. I remembered another “conversation” that I had with the the Lord one day in my mind. I was still trying to figure out why…and how…and exactly where…I was supposed to “slow down”. Now, I’ve been told in personal revelations that I have been blessed in many ways because I am diligent…a quality that many, if not most of us, share, so you’ll probably relate to how I was feeling. I felt like I’d already slowed down in so many ways that to slow down anymore would be to stop…surely the Lord didn’t want that…surely he had many things he wanted me to do…because I’m diligent. I still had my responsibilities teaching the young girls at church and many responsibilities at home which couldn’t be delegated or ignored. I remember thinking to the Lord “but Lord…I’m diligent”. The thought that instantly filled my mind then was “Yes, I want you to be diligent at taking care of yourself and at slowing down.”

Okay. I can do that.

So I’ve been trying really hard to do that. We created a space where I can “bicycle on my back”…and separated my personal study space from the sewing space that I had, and in the process, we cleared out a lot of clutter. More importantly, I backed off of the expectations for myself of things that I wanted to (or thought I should be) studying, and I just spent time “being”…and bicycling…and “doing” nothing. As I have done this, I’ve come to realize something. It’s this: Acting still and Being still are two very different things. I had done lots of things in my life to simplify and to be outwardly still…but I hadn’t done the same so that I could be inwardly still. I realized that I constantly had a very long “to do” list running in my brain…and its ever present companion…the “you should have done” list. These two lists are among the things that have been keeping me from truly being still. So I needed to stop doing yoga, and learning the violin, and studying all of the things that I wanted to study so that I could learn to separate doing from being. I’m not finished learning this lesson. It’s not always easy to live in the momentjust being, but little by little I’m learning how to do that.

And more importantly, I’m beginning to see why this is so vitally important! When I stopped doing “things” all day long and started to focus on doing “nothing” all day long, I suddenly began to feel more peace, see more beauty, and connect with my children and loved ones more. I’m beginning to receive revelations more readily from the Lord. I’m beginning to feel creativity flow naturally and easily. I wake up in the morning with so many new thoughts and ideas that I can’t contain them all.

I was re-reading a favorite book recently and the author does a good job of describing the phenomenon that I think I’ve been experiencing. The book is The Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In her first chapter, The Beach, she describes something that I think is familiar to all of us: The vacation; the trip to the sea-side, or the mountains, or where ever. You go (at least I always do) with a big satchel of books or projects or things that you plan to do while you are there. Usually these are things that you enjoy but don’t have enough time to get to, and vacation is the perfect time for that, so you take it all along with you. But something interesting usually happens, doesn’t it. You never really get down to doing all of the things you brought along to do…or at least you don’t do them at first.

by Hirohisat from WikiMedia Commons

Instead, what Anne calls “deck chair apathy” takes over and you simply sit and do “nothing”. You relax and listen to the waves, you just sit and be until your soul becomes like the beach sand…washed clean of all of yesterdays scribblings…and also tomorrows scribblings…for we carry those with us too. It is in this state…this washed clean state, this blank slate place…that we can have the space that we need to really listen…and really hear…and really feel joy. It’s such an amazing paradox…”doing nothing” in this sense is a really important sort of nothing…as Christopher Robin (or rather A. A. Milne) captures for us. I think that this is what the Lord is trying to help me to understand and to find in my everyday life. It has become my conviction that these moments are not supposed to be reserved just for vacation times, they are for everyday. And it’s not as though I cannot do yoga anymore, or learn the violin, or any of the things that I like to do…as long as I am remembering to just be as I do these things. I can sense that this lesson will take me some time to really learn well, but with Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin as my guide, I think I can begin to learn this lesson the Lord is trying to teach me. Perhaps this is, at least in part, what he means when he exhorts us to “become as a child”. (see Luke 18:16-17 and also 3 Nephi 11:37)


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