Forwards and Backwards

Life is full of paradoxes. I’ve often noticed that when I’m working on something new or trying to solve a problem, the first attempt is quite often the best – or at the very least, has things about it that are better than all my subsequent efforts. This can be very annoying, because it feels like I’m going backwards rather than forwards, and that I’m not learning anything from all my efforts. 2012-11-28 15.38.00

But I’m beginning to understand why this is so, or at least I think I am. It’s to do with doing, and non-doing.

I’m reading a book by Jon Kabat-Zin called Wherever You Go, there You Are, a book filled with such luminous, startling truth that every now and then I find myself putting it down and just staring into space, awash with the realisation of the obvious that somehow eludes me most of the time. I quote:

‘The joy of non-doing is that nothing else needs to happen for this moment to be complete. The wisdom in it, and the equanimity that comes out of it, lie in knowing that something else surely will.

It reeks of paradox. The only way you can do anything of value is to have the effort come out of non-doing and to let go of caring whether it will be of use or not.’

I’ve always known this to be true, but I’ll probably never stop needing reminders. I need to relax into more and more moments of ‘non-doing’ every day – because I know that paradoxically, more will come out of this than if I drive my actions by concentrated thought – or by caring too much about the outcome. So why not relax a little more, play a little more, stay still in the happiness of the moment a bit more often, secure in knowing that this is just simply what I most need to do?

I’m off right now, to do just that…….


6 thoughts on “Forwards and Backwards

  1. I think I understand what you mean. Certainly it can be frustrating when things seem to get worse rather than better :-(.
    I would tend to phrase it more in terms of brain hemispheres, or types of consciousness: the functions performed by the “creative right-brain” don’t take kindly to conscious “left-brain control”. And when we are trying to achieve something we try to take control.

  2. You’re so absolutely right. Right and left hemisphere brain activity is the way I’m more used to thinking of it. But I love it when I find other ways of describing things – when it makes me discover the truth about something in a fresh way, and I feel as if I’ve walked all around it and come in again through the back door, and I understand it all over again as if for the first time. If that makes sense!

  3. This resonated strongly with me especially the first and last paragraphs. I particularly feel like a slave to my “to do” list at the moment and this ironically is making me less productive! Our need to stop and absorb and live in the present and draw strength from God or simply from stillness is at the heart of being human.

  4. How nicely put, ‘at the heart of being human’ – because you’re right, this is part of the human condition, universally so, and I think that this too is reassuring because we all have this need, and recognise that it’s true for each other. Thanks!

  5. Lovely writing….and I am further amazed by the date of your photograph, because in my little corner of the world I took a nearly indistinguishable one that very morning!

  6. Extraordinary! And yet – not. I’m beginning to understand (and why have I not allowed myself to believe this more often, when somehow I’ve always known it to be so?) that this kind of synchronicity is quite natural. I’m even begining to see how it can bring people together in unexpected ways. WordPress has certainly helped to make this happen on more thatn one occasion.

    I love your posts, and your photographs. You obviously has the same addiction I have for putting words and pictures together. I’ll be back for more.

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