Structured un-structure

to-do-listAt the beginning of this year I wrote about my desire to shift my focus more on Being and less on Doing.  In practice I found that very difficult.  My perception of the demands on my time, primarily from work, got in the way.  I am now out of the job, and out of all the structure and routine that job created for me (or I created for the job).  This is an exciting and unknown domain.   I notice that even though there is no external requirement to do so, I still make daily “to do” lists.  I find the structure comfortable, and more importantly, very valuable to set my intention for the day.  The daily ritual of my “to do” list creates an opportunity for me to pause and reflect on what it is that I want to do, or not do, that day.  I must confess, sometimes I put “take a nap” on the list. Regardless, I keep the list short.  Some of you may marvel at this, perhaps those who are in the “P” realm of the Myers-Briggs type indicator.  Those of you who are fellow “J”s may recognize yourselves in me.

The irony is that while I want to practice just being, I need some structure to do so – otherwise I keep myself busy with activity that just fills up my day.  Paradoxically, I find a little structure very helpful in exploring what unstructured time feels like.  I am currently participating in an online course with Pema Chodron, and in this past week’s lesson she spoke about the need to practice meeting yourself where you are; allowing your experience to emerge without either rejecting or condoning. She also discussed the need to practice stepping out of your comfort zone and into your challenge zone, without pushing yourself into excessive risk, where it might be too traumatizing for learning to happen.  This grows your capacity for challenge, and expands your comfort zone.  What defines each person’s comfort, challenge and excessive risk zone is highly personal, dependent on where you are in your own journey.

So for me, I am practicing un-structure.   Technically I am un-employed, but the Latin root of “employ” means “to infold, involve, engage” and I feel very engaged in this process.  I suppose I have become my own employer.

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