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Peace Be Still

Yesterday, I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee with a friend. We spent time catching up, checking on one another, and providing advice for encouragement. After an hour of great conversation, I was reminded of something that I had not given much thought to. I am uncomfortable with being still. Since the age of 14, I have worked in some capacity. Whether I helped my family around the house earning an allowance or I secured summer employment like most youth from the inner city, I found myself always busy. And this work ethic has transferred to my adult life. Over the last 21 years, I can recall only once being unemployed and that was during my college years. And even then, although I was not working, I was focused on my undergraduate education. Even more so as an unemployed professional who has spent their entire adult years working, I find myself looking for things to do. True, I have a doctoral program to focus on, but for someone who has juggled managing multiple tasks, it feels unproductive to not have anything else to focus on. Pico Iyer, the author of "The Art of Stillness: Adventures of Going Nowhere", touches on the joy that can be found in being still. Our society encourages us to stay on the go. Everything we need is easily accessible as we manage juggling multiple tasks; we can purchase our coffee through an app, our groceries online, and audiobooks have become the busy professionals best friend. Everything we may have identified as interrupters in our busy lives can now be accessed in the midst of our busyness. As I reflect on my own desire to stay busy, I recalled a conversation I had with another friend regarding their inability to sit still. They had just received their doctorate and a promotion. In fact, the entire time I had known them, their life was a constant series of promotions. They were shining brightly in all they were doing, but they had not taken a moment to reflect on their accomplishments and just be still. They could not even recall a moment where they simply enjoyed their hard work and celebrated their accomplishments. Success has been tied to hard work, which has been linked to individuals needing to stay busy. Unfortunately, this desire for busyness as it is defined by our society and culture leads to burnout and exhaustion.I recently heard a common saying, "do today what others will not do". This says, all though true, has placed some of us in spaces where sitting still feels like a waste of productive time. There is this underlying belief that if we are not busy, we are not achieving or striving toward a goal. And I have learned I have adopted this belief. Modeling the practices and processes of the Sankofa Xperience, I sit and reflect on the narratives I have told myself regarding staying busy and the discomfort I have developed with stillness. What I believe and how I think began with my socialization, I grew watching the adults in my family get up each day and go to work. Even during retirement, my parents and grandparents continued to stay busy. The idea of being still was unfamiliar with the environment I lived in and lifestyle I had created, but in this season, it is essential. In this discomfort, I realize the healing that can take place in being still. Over the years, I have inherited negative behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and habits that were not mine but those of the world around me. In this season of stillness, I am able to stop and take stock of the person that I am to become the person I aspire to be. Stillness, although unfamiliar, is an opportunity to not only pause but stop and reflect on the where we are in our lives. To reflect on the thoughts we accept, the habits we practice, and the path we have taken. It encourages us to truly develop an understanding of our place in society and how we can make it better. And for some of us, it gives us time to appreciate our hard work and successes if even for just a moment. As we prepare to enter a new year, consider practicing small moments of being still. Each morning as your feet touches the ground, following your morning routine, add a moment of stillness to your day. Sit for a few moments, close your eyes, and just be. Allow yourself to do absolutely nothing physically and acknowledge your thoughts. Acknowledge your feelings in that moment. Reflect on your accomplishments. You've done a great job being you so far, celebrate yourself! Xperience your Sankofa. To learn more about Pico Iyer's "The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere", click here to visit his Amazon page.

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