After publishing my last blog post, I leaned back in my chair, looked past the computer out the window at the little street we’re living on, settling in to the drone of listless snow and to-do lists. A man walked his dog, the salt crunching under his boats. I wondered about dinner.
Out of nowhere, an uninvited thought ran across my mental stage like a naked streaker:
What if I just did stuff?
I frowned. It seemed simple. But there was a weirdness to it that also made it feel big.
What if I just did – without explaining, wondering, announcing, planning, contextualizing? How would that be? A surge of energy glittered though me. How would taking up a commitment to just doing stuff be?
I started right then, in my chair, that moment. Ten minutes later, I had created a poster offering my services in helping people to nest their houses; I printed two copies, and put them in the coffee shop and grocery across the street from our new apartment. I did this not because I expected anyone to call me, but because I wanted to see the flow of just doing to fruition. I wanted to just do – and do something that felt edgy and weird and spontaneous – anonymously, and from the gut, and without much thinking. And guess what – it felt great!
Over the past three weeks, I’ve been practicing this idea – Just Do Stuff! – in little ways, wherever I can. I go to the train station without a ticket. I walk without a route. I had some moments of intense creativity and came up with an entire new series of workshops, which I am moving forward with sans questioning or hedging. I say yes or no without weighing pros or cons. I have a drink in the afternoon because I want one. I go to sleep at 9:30pm because it feels good. I throw things away without worrying I will want them. Mostly :).
One thing I JUST DID was decorate a home for husband’s business. It took a week and was crazy, but here we are – a tangible example of the energy that can do big things quickly when unfettered by overthinking!
I’m so excited by this idea of DOING!, and it is also interesting to me how hard and foreign it is. While I do have the examples above, there are still so many moments of overthinking, explaining, and brain-wringing. Trying not to do something makes you aware of how often you do it, no?
I wonder what the impact of DOING! will be on civic engagement. My experience of civic engagement since moving to Philadelphia has been very regimented, structured, hierarchical – becoming a committee or board member, planning events, etc. And much of my writing about civic engagement here has concerned things such as activism, expertise, autodidactism, history, and education. Lots of systems, plans, organizations, and structures have governed my understanding of civic engagement up until now. Spontaneity has not really been a part of my civicization. I feel excited to think about what DOING means for our work as civically engaged folks – what actions will pour forth if they’re unfiltered by the mind, straight from the heart, from instinct, from feeling, inspired and set loose?
If you decide to try DOING! as a modus operandi for the next week or so and want to share the outcomes or examples in the comment section, I’d love to hear them – and I am excited to see where this goes!