As human beings, we don’t like to remain idle for significant amounts of time. We are constantly hopping from one activity to the next, either for work, family commitments, volunteering, or entertainment. The more responsibilities and commitments we have, the more hard working we are assumed to be, and the higher we are esteemed. We have positive thoughts associated with busyness and packed schedules. Exhaustion is in the vogue. The more we have our nose to the grindstone, the better. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to our work and career lives. We like to pride ourselves on having flourishing social lives, knowing we are keeping our kids constantly entertained with structured activities, and staying involved in our communities, religious groups, or clubs. Sure, we may squeeze in some loaf-in-front-of-the-TV time in once in a while, but we would never admit that to our contemporaries. For the most part, our society glorifies the rat race that many of us find ourselves in today.
I think it’s sad that we all don’t find more time to just be. I believe that it’s important for us all to step back and practice mindfulness. As a musician, I find it hard to be inspired if I’m always running from one place to the next, without giving myself time to sit and reflect once in a while. I maintain a relatively busy schedule, and enjoy working hard. When I do have some free time, I often find myself digging into a good book or re-watching an episode of “The Office” for the zillionth time. These are obviously two very worthwhile pursuits. I would never turn my back on Michael Scott. However, if I’m always “plugged in” even in my leisure time, I’m just blocking out the wonder of the beautiful world around me. I’m missing out on the possibility of random, inspired thoughts popping into my head, the fun I derive from people watching while sitting outside on a bench, or the excitement of watching the leaves fall from the trees in autumn. I think it’s valuable for us all to be in tune with ourselves and our universe. When we spend our free time stopping to sit, relax, and breathe, our time spent focused on our work or social interactions ends up becoming more effective as a bonus.
Don’t get me wrong, there are very few things I value as much as dedication, perseverance, or hard work. I always put work-academic, musical, or various jobs I’ve had-first. Laziness is near the top of the list of things that I hate with a passion. I’ve certainly spent my fair share of late nights studying or practicing, days that I hardly find time to shove some food down, or times when my brain is so going so fast I’m short with my family and friends. We all have those days, they’re part of living a life of a responsible human being. They come often, and when they come we have no choice but to face them with an optimistic attitude and a focused mind. However, I think it’s important to do our best to find a good balance in every aspect of our lives here on earth. By doing this, I think we become a complete person. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this concept lately, mainly because I myself have a tendency to wear myself down with too much activity and freaking myself out about all of my responsibilities. As I’ve recently re-started to teach myself to chill out, both physically and mentally, I’ve definitely noticed some positive changes in my life. These sentiments are clearly not musician specific, and I believe that everyone on all the paths of life should take time to stop, smell the roses, smile, and breathe.
PS: That being said, I write this near midnight, at the end of an extremely long day, from the comfort of a practice room. I never said I was willing to sacrifice musical progress for a clear mind. Ha! I’ll spend some time appreciating the beautiful sky on the way back. 🙂