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December 9: Be

 

I've called this advent calendar "24 Days of Making, Doing and Being," my attempt at offering up a little respite from the swell of consumption that takes over this time of year. I wanted every day to have a challenge or a prompt, something to get you in the holiday spirit, but also just take some time to appreciate the season.

But then I started thinking about how much this season becomes focused on activity. Even the activities that make us feel good, like baking a batch of cookies, going for a walk, reading a book, can start to feel constrictive if we're already flooded with things to do.

So today, the prompt is simple: just be.

I am working my way through Women at Work, a compilation of interviews with female literary greats by The Paris Review. In an interview with Isak Dinesen from 1956, Dinesen talks about her childhood in the early 1900s.

"There were carriages with all the great beauties of the day in them, and one stopped and chatted. It was delightful. Now look at these motors and motor bicycles and noise and rushing about. It's what the young today want, though: speed is the greatest thing for them. But when I think of riding my horse - I always had a horse when I was a girl - I feel that something very precious is lost to them today. Children of my day lived very differently. We had little in the way of toys, even in great houses. Modern mechanical playthings, which furnish their own motion, had hardly come into existence... Young people today are not acquainted with the elements or in touch with them. Everything is mechanical and urban: children are raised up without knowing life fire, living water and the earth."

That was 1956. I felt like I could have been reading an interview from today, a reflection of how frantic and chaotic and disconnected our lives have become. Commentary on how much our digital lives have distracted us away from our existence. 

It made me want to take a deep breath, to slow down. Which of course, because I am terrible at taking my own advice, I have yet to do.

So I am writing this prompt not just for you, but for myself. 

Today, focus on simply existing. 

Allow yourself to let go of distractions and obligations.

Let your brain clear itself out.

Let go of expectations of what you should or shouldn't get done.

Breathe. 

Just be. 

-Anna



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