I remember the first time I heard the words.
I was in my early twenties, and in Toronto for a conference. My aunt and uncle picked me up downtown after the last day’s sessions. They wanted to take me to Queen’s Park.
It was an ideal Fall day, the air was crisp and clean (as clean as it can get in Toronto) and dry leaves crunched underfoot. The sun shone and warmed our faces as we happily chatted and made our way down a stone path. At one point, we sat at a bench and continued our conversation for a few minutes, after which my uncle and I got up to proceed with our walk. My aunt stayed seated. She looked up at us and said “You two go ahead. I’ll catch up with you later. I want to sit here and just be.”
I was shocked. I had never in my life heard anything like it. To just be? To sit and do nothing? To be idle?
I grew up in a household where things were always buzzing, where there was always something to be done, someone to help, something to be mended. The phone would ring and we would go, go, go. One thing done, and on to the next. If things were not done in time, then other things would be delayed and we couldn’t have that.
The only time I saw my parents rest was at 4 pm when they had tea and biscuits. It’s still part of their routine, now that they are retired. Even then, it’s just a fifteen minute break, and then on to other things.
I find that I am often the same way. There are always a million things to do, and when I’m not doing any of those things, I’m checking my calendar and to do list to make sure that I don’t forget anything. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I get things done. I feel the raw satisfaction of striking an item off my list.
Coming back to that day in the park, the more I thought about what my aunt said, the more fascinated I became. To just be. Such a simple concept, but oh, so luxurious! Was it possible to be at rest and just be happy in the moment, and feel a sense of how rich our lives are and how lucky we are to be here without worrying about what comes next?
I want to sit here and just be. Those words remind me that sometimes, even for a moment, I need to stop doing and remember that life is not a race.