This is a guest post by a writer I love, and a writer you will love, too. Meet Emily P. Freeman!
We all know exercise has many benefits beyond just the physical. It can help us clear out the cobwebs in our minds and see situations with a new, rejuvenated perspective. I’ve never been a runner, but I can vouch for the power of a good walk.
But I’ve also been learning lately that sitting down can actually be surprisingly informative and energizing when you do it with intention. The simple act of sitting is becoming a kind of metaphor for me, a way to consider the disappointments as well as the celebrations, the fears as well as the joy. Here’s what I mean.
I recently sat on a bench with a book and a journal at a local park, but I did more staring than reading. I watched the moms and babies stroll by, the workers with their good intentions toward the public bathrooms, the guy on his bike who rode without a helmet. I read a little about David in the Bible, how he was both a man after God’s heart and a killer. I thought about how none of us are just one thing, but many shades of light and dark and shadows of gray.
Sitting alone does good work.
I sat in an uncomfortable airport seat, waiting to board the winged, sideways skyscraper, remembering that I can’t hold it up with mind games or willpower. So instead, while waiting to board the bus in the air and shoot out into the wild blue sky, I ate an apple and read an article about Sandra Oh leaving Grey’s Anatomy.
Sitting on the edge of my comfort zone does good work, especially when the seat is thirty thousand feet above the ground.
I sat in a fancy office chair, stared out a window at the city beyond, and had to accept that even though I needed to get work done, I didn’t want to be a relentless dictator over my soul if my productivity didn’t meet my expectations.
Sitting with my weakness, my obsessions, and my profound ability to twist art into achievement — this does good work, too.
I squeezed myself onto a swing in my neighborhood during a morning walk, thought of the ways our life used to look compared to how it looks now. While some of the changes are encouraging, others are not so easy to categorize. I recognize my desire to evaluate everything even as I appreciate the mystery of being unable to.
The rhythm of sitting on swings does good work, a reminder that we are tethered even as we sway.
I sat with my daughter at our kitchen table, quiet while she did her homework. I answered the questions I could, aware of how soon the day will come when her work will be beyond my ability to advise. She’s moving on and I can’t always go with her. But while she’s here, I’ll sit beside her.
Sitting with family does good work even when we can’t help them solve their problems.
When we sit we may find answers, but most likely we’ll finally hear the questions. We may uncover things we’d rather avoid, things like fear, anger, weakness, or entitlement. But we might also find courage, peace, and hope there too.
When we sit, we let ourselves be human, realizing that an ending doesn’t have to mean the end. Maybe it simply means it’s time to begin again. Where are some places you’re sitting today and what might they have to teach you?
Emily P. Freeman is Wall Street Journal bestselling author living in North Carolina with her husband and three children. She has been writing online for ten years at emilypfreeman.com.
The above is a modified excerpt from her latest book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World.
To learn more and to access a free video series on how to intentionally create space for your soul to breathe, visit SimplyTuesday.com.