breathe vs. achieve

By Jana

like a sunset

What can we do but keep on breathing in and out,
modest and willing, and in our places? ~Mary Oliver

Last night in our Study Group, a friend gave an awesome lesson about world religions and what we can glean from various faith traditions to augment our own spiritual paths. She read a passage about the difference between ‘western’ traditions versus ‘eastern’ traditions, specifically noting that western traditions emphasize progression whereas the eastern foster satisfaction with the here and now–“being” in the moment.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. I often work so hard to achieve things, yet I crave just sitting in solitude or the time to lose myself in a flower or to lie across my bed with a purring cat beside me. I have so many lofty goals–books to write, places to travel, classes to teach, and so on. But I feel a tension between the ambition it will take to accomplish these goals…and the desire to sit in solitude.

I think for now I am choosing the latter. And tomorrow I will take up the pursuit again. But today, I may just breathe awhile.

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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