Monday, July 6, 2009

Doing vs. Being

A week or so ago I picked up an audiobook at the library because I was in a hurry and it was on their "new arrivals" shelf. Little did I know it was an Oprah pick.

The book is Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth and it was slow going for me at first (partly because I had to get over Tolle's voice - see below). But about halfway through it Tolle started talking about parents' relationships with their children. A lot of what he said struck a chord with me. (I still have at least a third of the book to go.)

He talks about "doing" versus "being." When we're madly doing - while we fulfill the mom role, for instance - we don't really connect with our kids, and frankly, we can never do enough. We're judging, providing, evaluating, doing for, doing without, doing instead of - none of which allows us to get to know who our kids are. I find myself in this state far too much.

If we're only "doing," we feel superior to our children, because (let's be honest) we're bigger, stronger, more experienced, more capable, etcetera. We often are superior in the physical sense. 

However, when we're "being," we're equal - meeting them on a soul level (sorry to sound so new-agey, but I can't think of a better word). More of an emotional level than a thinking level. When we're there ... present ... being alert, or still, or even talking perhaps, we can connect on a much more fundamental level. This is what our kids want and need.

Kids want us - who we are as a human - and our attention. Not some perfect role model, not a maid, not a provider, not a "doer." They want us, with all our flaws, hopes, wants, needs, fears, joys ... and love.

Audio version

Sorry about this, but Tolle's voice kinda reminds me of Dieter, Mike Myers character from the SNL sketch, "Sprockets":

I couldn't resist.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy What We Give Our Kids.


  1. Nice -- I need to do some more being. :-) Thanks for the reminder.

  2. What a koinki - someone gave me that book as a grad present. I put it in the bookshelf and forgot about it until I saw your post. I shall dutifully pull it out and skim it when I get home :)

  3. The New Earth is basically about overcoming your ego - the part of you that you THINK is the "self" but that isn't, the part that is self-serving. This, according to Hindu philosophy. It sounds new-agey, because it is the essence of Hindu (and Bddhist) philosophy! Sanjeev would know more about this. He's seriously well-read on every kind of philosophy, and also reads your blog!