Weekly Reading Topic for April 25, 2020:
Well, good morning, love! I just opened a Reading for you, my newsletter subscribers and here’s what I heard in answer to the following:
What do my readers most need to hear this weekend? What is the most important message to send to my beloved readers?
The answer was: “Do Something.”
What follows is your weekly reading, dear one.
Weekly Reading │ Do Something
Q: What do we need to know about “Do Something?”
A: A friend who was in the Marines told me that he was taught the following hard-and-fast rule:
If there is nothing to do, you do something.
What does it mean? It means you keep your self sane and calm no matter what.
So, if things are quiet and “nothing is happening,” whether that is on the battlefield or in boot camp, you DO SOMETHING.
You don’t sit around stewing in your own thoughts. You don’t listen to the voices of fear in your head. You don’t wonder how your mom is, or worry about your girlfriend back home, or how you did that morning in drills. You don’t make a plan for the next day that you’ve already made ten times.
You DO SOMETHING.
If there is nothing to do, do SOMETHING.
So — what do they do? Whatever is at hand.
Make the bed. Polish the shoes. Clean the windows. Swipe the cobwebs out from the ceiling, or under the cot. Iron the shirts. Clean the gun. Shave the face and trim the buzz cut.
And if you look around, and you have done everything?
Do SOMETHING AGAIN.
Unmake the bed so you can make it again. Clean the gun again. Polish your shoes again. Swipe the corners for cobwebs, iron your shirt, and oh, yeah, go ahead and polish your buttons on your dress jacket. Again.
It’s not mindless activity for the sake of mindless activity. It is MINDFUL activity for the sake of SANITY.
When the human brain has “nothing to do,” it makes up something to do.
This can be a good thing, of course. A lot of genius inventions and ideas have come about during times of “nothing to do.” The most famous example is Newton grokking gravity, but your child discovering that life without the internet means you make your own entertainment up is another.
This can also be a bad thing. This is how conspiracy theories start, for example. In the absence of clear information, when there is nothing to do but watch a dramatic event unfold, people make up a story to make sense of what they’re seeing.
So, Doing Something — anything productive and useful — is a way of making life Clean, Orderly, and Manageable.
Doing Something that is perhaps boring, perhaps repetitive, may, in fact, be the only thing that saves our sanity when life seems Cluttered, Chaotic, and Out of Control.
So. This week, there will be a global tendency to Get Bored and Think “There Is Nothing to DO!”
And that can lead us to make choices that harm ourselves or others. It can lead us to make up stories to do harm.
Even if it’s just to harm ourselves.
For example, a story that often pops into people’s heads when they are feeling out of control and like there is Nothing to Do to help is that these feelings are something they can “solve” by taking on too much responsibility.
Your friend’s business is failing, but you’ll do OK … so you end up feeling guilty about your own survival.
Children of divorce often fall prey to this, too: life is suddenly messy and unpredictable and painful, and so they attempt to make things Clean, Orderly and Manageable by making up a story that they are themselves to blame for the divorce! If I’m in charge of the situation, even tangentially, I start to regain control … right?
So be wise this week. As the world starts to say There’s Nothing to Do, try this:
Be a Marine.
Make your bed. Clean the kitchen sink. Vacuum. Dust. Wipe down the rails. Polish the silver. Trim your nails. Braid your hair. Rake the yard. Weed the garden. Pay the Bills. Do the Laundry.
Do the things that you normally think aren’t worth doing. Clean out the closet, the attic, the basement.
And if you run out of Useful Ways to Be Clean, Orderly, and Manageable … do them again.
By cleaning up, bringing order, and making your surroundings more manageable, you will find yourself a little peace of mind, and at the least, a sense that you are protected from the chaos of others who may not be thinking clearly.
If there is nothing to do, do something. Make your life more clean, orderly, and manageable, and your entire body, that buzzing collection of human cells and microscopic probiotic life forms, will have a (little) space to relax and rest.
No matter how wise we are, we always need to attend to the basics. There’s a Zen Buddhist koan:
“Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”
There is no end to the mundane tasks of the world, and we are never beyond them.
Do what you are doing while you are doing it, and don’t do what you are not doing while you are not doing it.
Your teakettle would love a good polish. Just ask it. Then … polish it.
Much Love to You Today and All Days,
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