This came up in conversation the other day and I had to laugh. It is so 1972. It is also something I used to experience. Hanging out.
“What are you up to Rebecca? ”
“Oh, just hanging out. Want to come and hang out with me?”
I remember what that meant. We would really not have any plans. You came over and we just talked, watched the world go by and drank a root beer .
No one comes over and hangs out with me anymore and it strikes me as I write this that no one even ‘drops’ by. My kids aren’t’ the only ones in the play date world. My life is scheduled through numerous emails. Date, time and activity colour coded and entered into the calendar.
Where is my hanging out time? Gone. When I have a space in the calendar I immediately wonder what I’ll do. And that’s the problem-What will I DO with it. Doing nothing doesn’t seem like an option. I’m left feeling increasingly like I’m on a hamster wheel of my own devising with no way to get off. Whatever happened to hanging out? Without an agenda? Just hanging out and seeing what happened? In the world I live in it seems morally bankrupt and possibly criminal to think about.
It suddenly occurred to me that the problem is two fold. First I have to allow myself to do nothing, and second, when would this even happen? When free time shows up I’m easily seduced into answering email, making a grocery list or listening to podcasts.
The obstacle I keep running into is that voice in my head that tells me to jam every square moment of my life with activities. If I’m not busy then I’m not providing value. And I have to be making valuable contributions all the time. Do you have a voice like that? It doesn’t value hanging out. It values achieving. But I so aware that busy and output doesn’t equal a life well lived. When I think of a life well lived I remember the sunset I saw at the cottage in August and the morning light pouring through the front window of the house in spring and the sound of the birds singing as a coffee is sipped. I remember the spaces.
What will quality hanging out time look like? The next time I make a coffee will I just drink the coffee? No email, Face Book or reading the online newspaper? When I walk the dog, will go on the walk? Not just me holding the leash and talking on the phone to distract myself from the walk. I will see and hear what’s around me. Will l watch the world go by? House by house, lane by lane? Will I feel terribly guilty if I do this?
What I’m claiming is nothing less than personal freedom. Freedom to just be and see what shows up. To sit, with nothing to do, and know that in that moment, I’m enough and nothing more is needed. I’m bravely looking for the freedom to see what is going on around me, to notice, to appreciate, to wonder, to question, to get curious.
“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m enough in every moment of life.
I think I remember how to hang out.