Satiety: The Paradox of Time Scarcity
I just finished my last sip of coffee, spending the last 3 hours sitting across from one of the most incredible women I know. We talked for hours, a stream of consciousness pouring out of our bodies, sharing vulnerabilities through conversation that flowed endlessly.
I didn't look at the clock once- I was so present, eyes dilated and a heart full of joy.
"In the pursuit of experiencing everything, I sometimes experience nothing."
The ugly truth: I have a habit of formulaically guiding (read: controlling) situations and conversations to be in service of my desired outcome. It doesn't come from a disingenuous place- it comes from a place of love and seeking to find common ground in the pursuit of mutual benefit.
And, if I'm being honest, from a fear of time scarcity.
In our discussion this morning, I was introduced to "Wu Wei", an important concept of Taoism that implies action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort, ensuring that by removing the distraction of struggle or effort we can more intensely focus on being fulfilled by the present.
Wu Wei means the right action in any given situation, action that flows naturally because we are connected to the flow of life. It is aware and effortless movement, or "being in flow."
Wu Wei ≠ Lazy
If you are like me, you're likely skeptical. "Wu Wei" sounds "woo-woo" and a bit like an excuse to be lazy, because achievement culture has taught us that "nothing worth having comes easy." Wu Wei is not just letting life "happen" - it means we are so in alignment with our values and vision that action that moves naturally because we are connected to the flow of life. Wu Wei also doesn't mean "unprepared"- it means that we can remove the barrier of forcing an outcome by believing that we can control the situation.
By being fully present in the action of life, Wu Wei liberates one from accompanied thoughts, allowing you to feel satiated longer and feel more fulfilled. If we can release ourselves of the worry of the "lead up" and the "navigation" and trust ourselves wholly that we are meant to be in this moment, we can fully experience the wholeness of that moment.
For example, consider the dreaded "Sunday Scaries." How many of us ruminate over Monday's endless to-do list, building anxiety around "what ifs" and building fictitious scenarios in our brains?
What if, instead of expending our energy combatting our Monday anxieties on Sunday AND Monday, we spent that energy recovering on Sunday, allowing for our bodies and minds to renew and be able to accomplish the tasks at hand tomorrow? If time is so scarce, why do we waste so much of it doing something that doesn't bring us joy?
Accepting and Releasing
We can't control what happens to us, but we can control what we do in the situation. By observing life's journey, it is through acceptance of flow and forward momentum that we can stay in, and accelerate, flow. It doesn't mean ignoring life's events, it simply means that we don't cling to what happens next.
And so it is...
"The more we force to make the most of our time, the more we expend energy and inevitably waste time."
As a person who has subscribed to the notion that "time is the only non-renewable resource" I have clung to make the most of every single second of every single day. But it is the notion of Wu Wei that allows for us to see that many of us might be missing the point altogether, that it isn't time, but life's experiences, that are a measure of how much life we live in a lifetime.
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