Thomas Edison was an incredible inventor, and a terrible fisherman. Thomas fished for an hour a day, and never caught a thing. Later in life someone asked him about it.
“I really never caught any fish because I have never used any bait….When you fish without bait, people don’t bother you and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.” An hour a day, to be still and quiet and to be with his thoughts. Out of that time came the phonograph, the lightbulb and motion pictures. Is that kind of stillness and quiet even possible in today’s world?
And there is something deeper going on here. While all the above is true, the deeper reason many of us stay so busy is from an undercurrent of restlessness. Restlessness shows up in our lives like a carrot on a stick of when/then: “When I do ______, then I’ll be okay.” When I become CEO, marry that man, move to Chicago, make one million dollars, earn their approval or respect, get them to like me…then I’ll be okay. But it’s a fallacy that keeps us always striving and never arriving. Each time we reach the goalpost, it moves. Being okay then means I’m never okay now. And it’s this sense of not being okay right now that generates the unceasing restlessness that drives the busyness we’ve created with our lives.
Do you know the simplest way to clean dirty water? Let it settle. The natural state of water is clear. In rest, it will always return to its natural clearness. Consider that the natural state of human is wellness. Wellbeing is already inside us, and our access to it is through rest and quiet. Being still allows everything that’s not well (and not who we really are) to settle and get out of the way.
Trying to escape this deep restlessness with endless activity only creates more restlessness right now. Each move we make in order to get to being okay only churns the water of our lives, making it murkier than before. It makes more “not okay right now” to come from. Wellbeing is not a place to get to, it’s a place to come from.