The Terror of Just BEing

By Joy Mazzola, Owning Pink

I knew this would happen. Or, actually, itís been happening, in little peek-a-boo bursts since I entered the nothing. The other day I felt overwhelmed by it.

This feels awesome

Iím loving doing nothing, more than I ever thought I could. For example, today I woke up after nine. I meditated. I drank coffee, caught up on e-mails, cooked (actually cooked) breakfast, and then headed out on an hour-long walk. I walked the dog for another 15 minutes after that, talked to my mom on the phone, took a nice shower, made a big lunch, and ate it at the dining room table reading a Tom Robbins novel. Before I sat back down at my computer I made big mug of licorice tea and had enjoyed three giant, farmerís-market strawberries smeared with Nutella Ė the dessert served to the friends we had over for dinner last night.

These are how most days go. And I love it. Did I mention I love it? I LOVE it. Iím not bored. It feels right and healthy, if indulgent. Iím hoping itís fertilizing the ground for something but honestly, if it never did, I think Iíd be okay living this way into the foreseeable future. Iíve tossed around ideas of officially becoming a ďhomemaker.Ē Iíve wondered how Iíd do as a monk. Iím trying to find a box for whatever this is. A defined role — something I can put in the ďoccupationĒ space on my tax forms or could at least explain to people (since the nuance of my speech from a month ago, ďIím giving myself some room to figure things out blah blah blah,Ē has become stagnant and doesnít interest even me anymore). Something that contributes to the spinning of the planet. Right now I feel like the Hugh Grant character in the movie About A Boy. ďWhat do you do?Ē people ask him. ďNothing,Ē he replies. ďI do nothing.Ē Confused, bewildered, they turn and talk to someone else nearby. He doesnít care. And neither do I. ButÖ

It just seems wrong

I mean, I know people do this all the time Ė take extended hiatuses without knowing what the next move is. But thatís generally because theyíre utterly burnt out from working 80 hours a week at soul-sucking jobs (which, in my mind, not only justifies their time off, but also provides financial padding enough to subsist for a few months sans income). Or some crisis has befallen them and the thought of participating in life in any conventional way is out of the question Ė and makes them immune to questioning. Neither of these is true for me. And yet I was called to stop anyway. Called to take this time. I guess I just thought that the time would Ö lead somewhere. That Iíd know something by now. That Iíd be on the track or the path or that the North Star would have appeared. I didnít think the woods would continue to get darker.

I watch people board the bus to work as I sip coffee on the couch. I watch my boyfriend chew his fingernails down to nothingness as he engages the stressful job that largely enables my ease. I witness people creating drama in their lives and how pleasantly occupied it seems to keep them. So many still enrolled in the doing-ness to which Iíve cancelled my subscription for seemingly no reason. I can feel the vibes of, ďMust be nice,Ē coming from every direction. Yes, yes it is nice. You canít imagine how nice. And as with many nice things given to many nice people, I feel utterly unworthy of it. I havenít suffered enough to earn such a reward. I wasnít wound up tightly enough to deserve such a long, extended exhale.

Is there something wrong?

Iím seeing coaching clients, mostly pro-bono because Iíve spun a story about how nobody with whom I want to work can pay for what I do, and have yet to re-write that tale. I make half-hearted stabs at creating my website but canít stay engaged for long because, despite all my reflecting and writing and meditating and reading, I still have no idea what to say for myself. Each day I watch my scant bank account erode away like coastline, knowing that at any moment I could earn some cash by doing something that will distract me from the total presence and ease and completeness Iíve been feeling. Trying to ignore the voices that insist, ďbut thatís the way it goes. You canít have both truth and income.Ē Or worse, the voices that tell me that thereís something wrong with me. That I am depressed or lazy or a hermit or clueless or naÔve or spoiled.

Except in rare cases, Iím totally anti-social. Iíll be invited out and, before answering automatically I check in with my mind-body, which so often replies, ďNah.Ē Iím so aware of everything Iím not doing and not wanting to do. But man, if this is how itís going to go, I have an awful lot of life to rule out before I get to the ďyes.Ē It’s like my soul wonít let me do and my head wonít let me feel okay about it.

Can’t fast forward

But then today, 30 minutes into yet another hour-long hike on a silent, foggy, wild trail in the hills where I live, it occurred to me that not only is this time okay to take, but I can take it more fully. The eerie scenery seemed to want to swallow me Ė it’s like it was beckoning me further into the space, inviting me to own this time instead of looking at how to justify or end it. That maybe the answers about What to Do Next wonít come until I stop fighting what I need in the present.

And then I came home to read a line that Lissa wrote: ďJust as you canít rush the current, you canít fast forward through your own gestation.Ē

Fine, Universe. Fine.

Okay. So Iím back to surrendering and hanging out and continuing to ask. Iím only partially through a summer, after all Ö thatís not an ungodly amount of time to take off by any stretch. Iíll withhold my bitterness at a world that wonít allow for this for everyone, disregard the bitterness I imagine others feel toward me, and try to enjoy it as mine. Iíll savor my health and sanity and peace and presence and not try so hard to jam my stake into the ground before Iíve even reached the right plot of land.

I can listen to the voices that tell me how incorrect and unsustainable and nonproductive and silly this is. I can let fear prod me back from the edge of the unnamable thing I can taste, back into a world where one is only a valuable member of it if they do X. Or I can engage the magic of the world — the stuff that, with every spacious moment I experience, becomes more and more apparent. I can dance with it so crazily that all fear gets kicked and nudged off the dance floor and out of the room.

What would you do?


Joy Mazzola is a blogger for Owning Pink, writer, and life coach extraordinaire. Contact her at — she’ll get back to you when she feels like it!

Related Link:
Forget Vacations and Staycations: How About a BEcation?
Give Yourself a Break

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Alicia N.
Alicia N.3 years ago

well..... you said you did nothing but you actually did!
cooked breakfast, went for a long walk, walked the dog etc etc and that's

Before going to work I walk my dog for 15 mins and when he is doing his things, I
do meditate, I do some stretches, breath in and out, admire nature, smell the air etc,
I live with my family in the suburbs so, no city stress until I have to go to work.
I do all of this everyday to keep me going

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

andrea n.
andi n.5 years ago

no matter what you do, people are going to say stuff. since we are conditioned from the time we are born to feel like our worth comes from whatever job or career we have, which is not only futile but turns out to be unfulfilling. i was forced by sickness out of that mindset, and i really admire you for doing what you believe is right for you right now. that takes a lot of courage and personal strength. keep doing what your doing...

Leslie L.
Leslie Law5 years ago

great, great article...truly enjoyed it, especially the many of us feel these things, even if it's only a day of doing this... and can't get rid of the "guilt", "should be doing this..." feelings...enjoy...this is truly "just being"...

Kerry S.
Kerry S.5 years ago

yes, just enjoy it!

Teresa T.
Teresa Tate5 years ago

Enjoy this time. Savor it. It will not last forever; nothing does. Eventually you will be forced back into the job market or some other "necessity" of life. As Buddha said, "Impermanent are all created things, strive on with awareness"

Jennifer Martin
Jennifer M.5 years ago

That's what I call enjoying life! Good for you (:

Dawn Z.
Dawn A.5 years ago

I am in your shoes Joy. But at this point I feel like I am waiting for something to happen. I have enjoyed the long days of summer but I feel like I need to DO something besides just BE.....

Margaret B.
Margaret B.5 years ago

I love aimless days with no set schedules or plans. But then the next day when I'm back in the chaos of my job all of that relaxation goes right out the window and I'm twice as stressed.

Suzanne Smith
Suzanne S.5 years ago

Often I hear what I suspect is BS from people about how much they "love" their job (especially if it is in the past tense, from retirees). The comments posted by others here prove otherwise...Frankly, I always hated the daily work treadmill. It's nice to know that some of us have been able to appreciate and embrace other options.