Life and the Act of Dawdling

I call it “dawdling”, although apparently that usually has a negative connotation about wasting time. To my mind it is the best use of my time and what I desire my life to be. It is time spent wandering along a beach picking up shells and gazing into tidepools. It is time laying on the grass staring at the sky. It is time watching how a coral can sting or a pair of foxes can play. All the while my mind is making connections between Life and Love and Time and Shelter and God and a million other things. My mind is rejoicing in all the colors and shapes and textures that make up our experience of the world. And later I translate it all into a painting.

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This is what I call dawdling and I long to do it all day, every day of my life despite the fact that I was raised with a Yankee work ethic and the Catholic belief in self-denial and suffering. Both of these I understand and respect and have followed for the majority of my years.

As I’ve grown older I’ve acquired things – an education, a husband, a house, a job. Responsibilities. There’s no time to dawdle! Especially if I need to stay fit, care for my mother, spend time with friends, build an art career, network and, oh yeah, paint! Who has time to dawdle? And so I’m busy. Busy, busy, busy trying to fit the pieces and moments of my life together while striving to get what I don’t have and protect what I do. Joy fades. It becomes a week on the beach in a foreign land desperately having fun. What is the point?

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And so I’ve rejected all of this. I cast out a lifeline and found it secured in the absence of things. A week in the rainforest in Costa Rica. No electricity, no running water, none of the “conveniences” that burden us. Instead, I walked, I wrote, I saw bugs and birds and animals and even saw stars that I could never see in the light of civilization. Joy returned to me in a flood of tears.

Now my things chafe at me. I want to be out from under all of my possessions. I am gradually unburdening myself one trip to the dump or Craigslist sale at a time. Already my life weighs lighter upon me. Happily I am beginning to follow my true Calling  – an entire life of simply “dawdling.”

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