54. Take the Time to Check in with What Matters Most

Check out the podcast version here!

Good morning and welcome to your fifty-fourth meditation. Can you just sit and do nothing? Maybe some people will hear that question and think, “I wish I had time to do that! Sounds like a dream!”. Others might think “that sounds like a nightmare. Alone with my thoughts? No thanks. I’ll take keeping busy any day”. But, while these responses differ in why they prioritize busyness over nothing — one out of ostensible necessity, and the other out of ostensible choice — the outcome is the same for both: No time allotted to just sit and really be with your thoughts. And both answers fail to address one very important point: What is the purpose of your busyness? 

It’s easy to be busy. It’s harder to consider why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing. Asking yourself that fundamental question forces you to take a more existential approach to thinking about life than is required to simply complete tasks. It means that you run the risk of discovering that what you are doing is meaningless. This prospect is scary, so we tend to avoid it. But remember, if you follow any line of questioning far enough, it will inevitably lead to meaninglessness. That’s because meaning is simply something that we tiny humans invented to give us comfort in the face of the raging infinity of the cosmos. And yet, within the systems of meaning that humans have invented, you have your own little corner of people and things that matter to you. This is real. This is genuine. And it is upon this solid base that you should build the superstructure of your life. All of the decisions you make should be in reference to these people and these things. You will make decisions that contravene your base from time to time. Your base itself will shift and change throughout your life. That which was fundamentally important to you at one point, may seem frivolous later on. Your best friend may become a stranger. That’s all fine. What’s important is that you check in with yourself regularly to ensure that everything you are doing in your life, all the busyness that occupies your time, aligns with whatever your base is at that time. And if it doesn’t, you adjust. This is the benefit of taking the time to do nothing. It is taking yourself out of it all so that you can see the forest and not just the individual trees. The danger of failing to take this time is that your daily affairs take you further and further away from your base so that the entire superstructure of your life — your career, your hobbies, your social life, etc. — becomes disconnected with that which you value most. And, without a base, any structure will topple. But even at this critical point, the base is still there; you just have to take the time to relocate it; and you can always rebuild upon it. So take that time, give yourself that space. Do it regularly. Be with your thoughts. See what they reveal to you. And stay firmly affixed to your base. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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