Finding the Infinite in a World of Work

I have managed to catch each sunset this week.   Here’s the shot from Monday night.   The only person with a better seat than me was this guy who came paragliding by with a fan strapped to his back. I have found it relatively easy to set aside the time to watch the sunset. [...]

I have managed to catch each sunset this week.   Here’s the shot from Monday night.   The only person with a better seat than me was this guy who came paragliding by with a fan strapped to his back.

I have found it relatively easy to set aside the time to watch the sunset.   It’s also been easy to feel into that space of the infinite during these moments.

The greater challenge has been internal.  I’ve noticed an inner critic that arises as I’m sitting before the sun “doing nothing.”   In a world where work and productivity dictate the flow of most days, this act feels radical.  With nothing to do, I almost have the sense that I’m doing something wrong.  ”Surely, there is some email I need to write, some chore I need to do, or some project that needs my attention.”

Thoreau also felt limited by this modern aversion to unproductive acts.  As he puts it in “Life Without Principle,”

If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.

Watching the sunset is no different.  If you spend the evening sitting idly as the sun goes down, it’s easy to feel like you’re “doing nothing,” like you’ve wasted the evening away and produced nothing.

The finite world creates barriers to Thoreau’s sunset experience in external ways (through time constraints and obligations).  But it also creates these internal barriers.  These barriers don’t come from the outside.  They arise in the mind.  They emerge in the thought that there’s something wrong when your actions have no clear “value-add.”

So for the rest of the week, I plan to work on letting go of these inner constraints.  The goal is to release the story that there’s something wrong with “doing nothing.”

Have you encountered these inner barrier to experiencing the infinite?

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