As I was meditating early this morning I began setting intentions for the day. There has been a lot going on in my life academically and spiritually, so I visualized the word “fresh” with every breath in, and “productive” with every breath out. Upon deeper consideration, these words hint at the very essence of being human. With every breath in, every meal, and every sip of water, we are refreshing our physical body. With every breath out, and every act of creation, we are sharing our energetic life force with the surrounding world.
Soon, a calmness enveloped my emotions, and I reached a brief moment of realization: “What I should do is nothing, but what I can do is everything.” My relationship with productivity has always been quite chaotic, for I am merely an easily-distracted human being. Confronted with this clarity, however, I realized that there was no need to place such intense pressure on myself to be “productive,” because it is in our genuine human nature to create.
It is characteristic of the ego to construct walls around the self and to limit one’s perception of what they are capable of creating. It’s no mystery that the creations of other humans — novels, bridges, fantastic artworks — have the potential of making us feel insignificant. More-so, they have the potential of making us feel unproductive. It’s the feeling that makes you say, “I should get off my ass and do something with my life.” For some, this feeling can be the healthy kick one needs to get back on track with what truly makes them happy. For many others, however, this feeling only serves to discredit the wonderful ways in which one is productive, simply because one’s productivity wasn’t a grand creation enjoyed by the public at large.
Humans may have varying degrees of intelligence, but most importantly, we have different types of intelligence. Some people have an incredible interpersonal intelligence, which allows them to recognize when someone is hurting and produce compassion in return. Others have mathematical intelligence, which enables them to produce understanding of the world around us. Those with musical intelligence have the capability of producing melodies and harmonies with which the rest of us can interpret through emotions. This is no mystery about the human race, yet we are quick to forget our unique and beautiful functions in life. When all acts of creation are brought to the same, level playing field, we recognize them for what they truly are — love. Not romantic love, but the type of love an eagle shows her eaglets by bringing them under her wing. From this perspective, a skyscraper and a song are both beautiful, human creations. Nothing more, nothing less.
Looking back at my meditation productivity is an inherent trait of humanity, and we are constantly engaging in it. Thus, it is futile to aspire to become productive when it is something we already are. Further, there is no bound to what any individual can produce, regardless of one’s intelligence. What makes humans unique is the fact that we are capable of doing everything, yet many strive to do nothing — retirement is viewed as an absolution of productivity. Instead, we must examine the statement “What I should do is nothing, but what I can do is everything.” I am not made to do anything, for I am a human simply existing, and I have the gift of free will. At the same time, however, I am capable of doing anything to which I set my mind, and this grand potential is so great it feels wasteful to squander. With this mindset, one can reach a state of contentment and happiness in one’s own form of productivity. With this mindset, one can look up at a majestic bridge and instead of feeling insignificant about one’s own creations a proud feeling of interconnectivity prevails. If anything, the bridge is a reminder that one truly can do anything, and even though we have a desire to sit around and do nothing, we still create anyway.
It is the duality of man; a lack of this understanding is the root of human suffering. In a society that uses “doing nothing” as an incentive for being productive the act of creation is corrupted to be a simple transaction. Human desires are skewed from our true nature to comply with the rigid structures of society, and we suffer as a result.