It is our addiction to “doing” that causes us to feel so pressured these days. We cram more and more into our days and none of it ultimately satisfies us, because we ourselves are the driving force behind it, seeking to achieve this and that, and coming up empty-handed every time. All this activity doesn’t bring us the serenity and contentment we seek. It just exhausts us. If we stop to think about it, whatever it is will either get done or it won’t. If we were to die today, either someone else would take care of it or not.
It is the claim that we put on this doing that is the problem. Somewhere deep inside us we believe that we are what we do. We identify with our actions. We invest ourselves in every action, under the illusion that if we are not doing something, then perhaps we don’t exist. Invest means “clothe in.” It is a habit, something we don. Somehow, we persuade ourselves that it is our responsibility to do every job. We become identified both with the work and the results. But the truth is that it is not our work, it is the work. If we can find a way to relax our grip on our actions and what comes out of them, there is great freedom. Just watching the activity, rather than becoming completely identified with it, is restful rather than exhausting. Nowadays people will claim almost any work they think they have to do. I hear people say that they have to do a wash, when what they mean is that they have to carry laundry to the washing machine and press a button. However, since they believe that they are doing the washing, they may be using up as much energy as they would if they had to go down to the river and beat the sheets on a rock.