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How can we define ourselves without the doing?

We are more than just what we can do.

Jocelyn K. Glei asks “who are you without the doing”. Over the past several years, and admittedly most of my life, I have struggled with this question. I imagine that most of us struggle with knowing when to take time to stop, to pause, and to relax. Let’s try to do that here. I invite you to work through this with me.

There is a time for everything. There is a time to work, and there is a time to rest. But we can’t work all the time in the same way that we can’t rest all of the time. To keep ourselves grounded, we need balance. How do we find balance and still be able to identify ourselves, to be aware of ourselves? If I miss a single day of running, can I say that I run regularly? If I take a week off from my morning run, am I no longer a “real” runner?

When I run fewer than three miles in a running session, I sometimes feel as if I’ve done little more than nothing, as if the run didn’t really happen. What does it mean for me to run if I feel like I have gone nowhere, improved little, if any, and barely broken a sweat? Am I solely defined by what I do?

Why do we ask new acquaintances, “what do you do?”

How do we draw lines between profession and self-worth?

If I don’t write for a day, does that mean that I am no longer a writer?

There have been days that I didn’t produce anything creative and felt in such a horrid state of worthlessness and uselessness, like an inadequate writer. The experience of those days have taught me this: we have to learn to be flexible and not tie ourselves so closely to the things that we do, but value instead the people who we intrinsically are.

If I don’t write and I don’t run, who am I?
If I am not a runner or writer, what does that leave for me?

Who are we without what we do?

If we take the “ers” off of the verbs that we so often use to describe ourselves, what remains to define ourselves?

What do we value? What do we care about? What makes us who we are at the core of ourselves, looking passed what we do?

Putting myself in the place to answer this question, I would say this:

To the Mindful Comedown,

Without the doing, you are an empathetic soul who wants to see the wellness and beauty in everything and everyone around her. You are curious and want to think through things in a way that may produce nothing at all, but you will be forever grateful for the experience of traversing toward answers. You feel things that often appear exaggerated, unbalanced, and sometimes misunderstood, even to yourself.

However, you always find a way to let yourself comedown. It’s not always graceful. Sometimes your highs get just a little too high, and you feel things so intensely that you realize the need to brace yourself for the fall. You curl up in a little ball to shield yourself from what you know to come. The lows have dropped you into holes that feel groundless, as if they have no end. But you, my friend, you have always seen the end of them. Every. Single. Time.

You have learned to mindfully comedown from your highs and resurface from your lows in a way that may be useful for others to know.

Without the doing, you are a powerful, yet fragile, empathetic, curious little soul.
And someday, to someone, your story will be told.

Now, it’s your turn. Who are you despite what you do?


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the mindful comedown.

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