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A Creative Conflict: To Be or To Do

An intriguing and existentially creative conflict to explore is the one between ‘being’ and ‘achieving’, between presence and productivity, between stability and transformative growth. To quote E. B. White: 

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."


Seldom in history has this conflict been so palpable and visible as it is now. When the West opened its mind to adopt some of the spiritual practices of the East, things got complicated. A lot. The western cult towards productivity and growth has been yet unable to accommodate the wisdom of quiet presence and the joy of simply being. It is rather looked down with condescension or, at best, tolerated as a hype that will eventually go over. 

The need to enjoy life for life’s own sake seems strange to the average overworked, medicated westerner trying to prove to the world that he, too, matters by seeking to outdo financially his or her peers. 

It would be insane to deny the value of productivity and growth completely and to expect that the whole world will simply sit down and do nothing the whole day. However, it would be even crazier to expect people to work 5 jobs to pay college debts, mortgages and loans, clocking thousands of hours without sleep, rest or true vacation. 

Perhaps the first step towards finding balance between presence and productivity is to acknowledge that they are not a dichotomy, rather a continuum. Being is necessary for doing and doing adds value to being. 

The beauty of it is that the meaning of being can be expressed through doing. And doing , in its turn, can help us find the depth and the possibility of being.

It takes courage to walk along this continuum and explore the emotions and beliefs we associate with each of its extremes. And while transformation often begins with a decision, wisdom finds its roots in balance.

If I’d have to re-write the beginning of this article in 1st person, it would probably sound like this:

While the creative rebel in me seeks to express herself in fresh and new ways, to change and challenge, to transform and evolve, the observer in me enjoys each moment as it is, finding value in it without being tempted to change or improve it. Far from passive, the latter stands for inner peace and contentment, while the first represents the drive to explore and create.

Where do I find meaning? In everything, everywhere, all the time. I don’t actually find it, I extract it by learning to value the very experience as part of my life path. 


Let’s take writing for example. What makes writing so intriguing to me

Being good with words is a recipe containing the divine ingredient of influence and freshness. It answers to a call from an invisible field and is guided by a force beyond the current comprehension of humanity. How can an activity, seemingly so trivial and easy, be so magical? Writing is what gives me access to the depths of my mind and allows me to connect on a deeper level with my readers. Facets, bits and pieces, that otherwise would have remained unseen and unexplored, now become subjects of attention and expression.

If one would write in brutal honesty, the page would come to life on its own. That’s the thing, writing loves us when we are uncensored, wild, free, confused, weird and above all, human. Just as Life cultivates our sense of self. Just as beauty guides us. Just as aesthetics teaches us. Just as sweetness spreads all over our bodies when we imagine that everything is fine and start creating from within this sensation. Perhaps, the greatest balance to be found lies in understanding that we unconditionally are and we are free to do.



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