Don't Be a Tool!

When a tool is designed, it is designed to "do" something. A tool has no sense of being. It has no essential nature. As soon as the tool is in the hands of someone else, like a mechanic, it may well be used in any number of other ways. Tools lack purpose. The tool is only meant to do. It's nature is situational. Is it a wrench or a hammer or a pry bar or a belaying pin? It IS what it is being used for. Vice Grips are a special, adaptable friend of truckers everywhere.

Vice grips hold open the release lever on the Tandem Axles of a trailer. A heavy load, rusty rails or a trailer parked on an incline can make it impossible to adjust the axles. A pair of Vice Grips clamped on a partially pulled lever will often help release them. Further, when I had Satellite Radio, I had a pair of Vice Grips clamped on the outside of my cab with the magnetic XM antenna attached to them. This antenna base, a rusty old pair of Vice Grips, has over 200,000 miles on it. I've even used Vice Grips to pin open a curtain in the window of my sleeper.

Today, in our Ceaseless Society, we expect human beings to multitask; multiple doing. Jon Kabat-Zinn says that Human Beings should really be called Human Doings, because we concentrate much more on doing than being. We can't focus on doing something well while multitasking. If the coin of the realm is multitasking, hyper-doing, there is no time for, or any emphasis on, just being. No time to spend discovering our true purpose.

I heard this vivid phrase somewhere on NPR: Continous Partial Attention. Set your iPhone down for a second, if you are not giving full attention to what you are doing, you cannot do the best possible job on that task. If we live in the buzz of multiple tasks, we can't possibly be living the best possible life. If we are constantly switching from this task to that one, are we giving the people we love any real attention? any dedicated face time? Do we really know what we actually want to do with our lives? When is the last time you stopped and really thought through what you want to do next? what you really want to do for a living? where you actually want to live? What is your true nature? What is your purpose?

Doing sounds like action, but it is essentially static. The tool goes from one task to the next without growth. There is no choice, just the next task. When you are doing, you are not living or growing. Being is dynamic but does not exclude accomplishment. While Doing is the mindless accomplishment of artificial, unconsidered goals, Being is the accomplishment of goals on a path; toward a purpose. These are handpicked, specific goals, chosen to further your life rather than simply to get someone off your back or to get that report off your desk. Purposeful Goals add up to a life worth living.

Can we just 'be?' Do we spend any time to quiet the world long enough to hear ourselves? We are making priorities every day under the crush of To Do Lists, Five Year Plans, Lunch appointments and Meetings, but do we know what we really value? Is there happiness and joy or stress and misery? Without some quiet “being time” to get in touch with what we really value, can we safely decide on anything? Are we even aware of a purpose beyond getting the next task done?

Fortunately, you are not a tool. A tool would never rather be doing something else. It has no sense of anything else, nor of a purpose. As a human, there is much greater depth in purpose. This depth, however, is unreachable when doing outweighs being. When a person is consumed in hyper-doing, they become like the tool; an inanimate object. There is no compassion, no empathy. There is no joy in the life of a tool.

When we can reconnect to ourselves and develop purpose, we can live in parallel to our essential nature rather than opposed to it. We can find joy and compassion and real living. Stress and misery are absent, because living toward a purpose, by definition, is effortlessly doing what we should do because it is what we want to do. In Being we are investing time rather than spending it. So invest a moment in being. Quiet the world long enough to truly consider what is worth your time. Accomplish something essential; something parallel with your purpose. Just be.

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