We’re in the midst of relocating from Switzerland to England. And, as with any move, there is much (oh so much) that can only become clear in the fullness of time. I know that patience is necessary, but I’m struggling with the culturally conditioned drive for productivity.
I want to jump into action (find a place to teach yoga! start the job search! investigate dog adoption!), but inaction is far more appropriate in so many areas.
We know little about what our reinvented lives in England will look like. We’re hoping for dogs and South Downs trail running (for Tony) and a career transformation (for me) and jaunts to Norwich and Bristol and Oxford and beyond. But all that’s currently certain is Tony’s job (he transferred with the same company) and the dampness (it’s been a horridly rainy couple of weeks). We don’t know which of the many towns scattered through southwest England we’ll call home (or even if we’ll be in Surrey or Sussex or maybe Kent) or how close home will be to our temporary housing.
While inaction is wise (and maybe even necessary!), it feels uncomfortably like laziness. And that leads to feelings of unworthiness. I should be gettin’ stuff done. I should be productive. I should not be loafing around. As I was ruminating on all the shoulds (I’ve written about the danger of that, but aren’t we all bad at following our own advice?), Irina Dumitrescu’s ‘resolution against resolutions‘ popped into my inbox.
Irina is a medievalist and she posits that the “cultural messages praising efficiency, productivity, self-improvement” pre-date the Industrial Revolution. She suggests that maybe “the point is to accept limitations .. [and] that idealistic action does not always achieve its intent, that life disappoints.” The early January email newsletter came precisely at the right time, both in terms of the calendar and my own schedule.
It’s common to feel aimless between Christmas and New Year’s. To drift between unstructured activities, grazing on holiday leftovers and losing track of days. Being unproductive is acceptable during Twixtmas (what a delightful term!). It’s perhaps the only time idleness is societally welcomed, but the new year snaps back to productivity, action, and resolutions.
The calendar has turned to a new year, but my new beginning is still germinating. And my resolution (or at least my hope) for this interregnum is to balance purpose (finding a ‘permanent’ place to live, dealing with the endless admin of an international move, keeping us fed) and ease (reading, re-watching Borgen, staring into space). To give myself grace to be more than do (another piece of my own advice I’m great at ignoring). And to trust that feeling unproductive doesn’t make me any less worthy.
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