I am, so I do.
If my last term with Experience Institute – two months in an Orthodox Christian monastery in the high desert of New Mexico – was considered a time of being, then this term – acting as a Wordsmith-in-Residence with the creative agency Misfit, Inc. in Fargo, ND – is a time of doing.
What I’ve found beautiful about this transition, though seemingly opposite in nature, is that now more than ever I’m recognizing their inextricable connection.
It’s as simple as this: To do anything, we must first exist.
This simplistic statement seems unnecessary to share, but I suggest it’s worth considering from a reflective and open-minded stance, so that we can acknowledge our own existence is more than a mere, “Yes, I have a pulse.”
Instead, our existence can be revered for the history that came before it; the struggle for survival; the union of two strangers; the perfect conditions; and the grace from something greater.
Our existence is beauty.
We cannot choose to be, but we are nonetheless, so thank you, grace.
And so, after months spent in being while at the monastery, I’ve now emerged into a time of action. Why?
Because I can.
And because others reciprocate their own kind of being through my own kind of doing. We dance and exchange and experience life through a cooperation of existence.
I can only act because I am.
I know that my existence is not dependent on what I accomplish, who I know, or what legacy I leave behind…all is forgotten in the end — except what is and always will be.
I am now, and I will be. Yet, what will I be in that future I can’t see? What will I be when my body doesn’t work? What will I be when the last shovel full of soil is thrown over my grave?
I am still something, right?
That something is what I connected with in the monastery. That something was me stripped of identity and pride and affirming associations.
But now I’ve been asked to do. And I have been doing a lot: meetings, calls, writing, tweeting, instagram, collaborating, conversing, etc. And within this doing, there are moments when I stop and pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
And with that breathing prayer, I’m reminded that I exist beyond everything that I do.
I am reminded that I could die and the world would keep spinning.
I am reminded that there’s something much greater than me.
And it’s freeing. It’s peace. It’s oxygen that fills more than my lungs.
To do anything, we must first exist. And to do anything beautiful, we must consider the beauty of existence in and of itself.
After all, life begets life.