The Conundrum of Doing vs. Being

At the same time, perhaps I should produce seven categories by which to denounce the latest theological heresy, and in the same process, seven more by which to denounce my own sins in the lives of others. I’m good at that. Too good actually. 

How should I interact with others on matters of disagreement? Is there a correct approach or is hostility the best avenue I can travel on to tell someone that mayonnaise is the devils’ spittle in a bottle? 

I’m pressured to better my writing so that it is lauded by the intelligentsia but I also want it to be read and understood by children. Mind you, I’m no grad or undergrad so I’m pushing a rock up a hill that will never reach the top, my grip giving every now and then, and then I’m chasing this boulder back down the hill. 

I’m a greek mythology story in a western modern scope where pragmatism and meritocracy are the ruling tenets of my time. Does it work? Overdo it. Can I derive capital from this? Then do it as much as possible. No matter the cost to my mental, emotional, familial, or financial stability. Just capitalize on it.

Always over-performing leads to underperformance which leads to thinking that one needs to perform even more.

Until all that is left is flesh and bones; and fat, plenty of it as of late. 

So I want to write when I read great material from wonderful authors. I want to sing when I hear singers sing well. I want to edit because I am all too aware of someone else’s written errors but all too ignorant about my own. I want to act but I’m ugly and if I weren’t I could not act to save my life. Should I take up comedy? I’m funny but in passing. Like the jokes passed between a doorman and a tenant. It’s something enjoyable only for a moment because should the interaction last any longer it becomes a dreadful experience, a chore.

Am I funny? To whom? Myself, of course. I laugh at my own jokes plenty and I think that’s enough. 

But what next? The pressure to perform and produce can be overwhelming when I admire and applaud the success of others.

If I venture to throw a ball well enough as an athlete does in one sphere or wave a baton timely so as a conductor does in another, someone may see and perceive, falsely so, that I’m an athlete or a conductor. 

And if the rhetoric is repeated often enough, if I throw the ball far enough, accurately enough, lead an ensemble well enough, an amateur group of musicians long enough, I too, will begin to believe the notion that I am these things. 

Maybe I am an athlete, albeit one undiscovered. 

Perhaps I’ll take up composing from now on. I’ll start with the violin and work my way to the clarinet. 

Therefore, through repetition of a false success story under false pretense, I lead myself and others to believe that I am that which I am not. 

Therefore, not only am I not qualified for said positions but my knowledge and experience within said areas of work and performance are nascent and lacking. 

Should I pastor? Maybe I’ll take up the mantel of a shepherd. A priest, perhaps. I’ll become a theologian! All I need is a heart for people. A degree. A parish. Right?

I mean, I’ve opened the bible in the past. Managed to regurgitate intelligible and digestible information by which the clergy and laity could put into practice. I’ve conducted the introduction, body, illustration, and lastly the conclusion of plenty of sermons. So, by definition I’m a preacher, no? I’ve counseled youth members in the past therefore I must be a youth counselor, no? I’ve assisted in the collections of offerings and tithes and later the appropriate allocation of said funds therefore I must be treasurer, no? I’ve prayed for the sick and the sick have gotten better, so I’m a healer, no? I’ve sat people in services and directed services from start to finish, therefore, I’m a deacon, am I not?

I’ve done most things, somewhat well, well enough to make others believe that I have done the same things for some time. Perhaps because that which was done was done so differently or by a different personality so unique that the work accomplished was considered good but perhaps it was just a distraction from the status quo. We normally think distractions are good when we’re bored. 

Have I been working and growing, garnishing respect on the basis of being a distraction from the status quo?

Is that why there is such immense pressure to perform? 

The pressure is consistent, at times it grows, as the demand is there to throw the ball further. To land it on more difficult targets accurately so. To go from conducting Debussy to Beethoven and later Faure. I’m in a place where I have to or at least I’m made to believe that I have to perform to feel accomplished but under this line of thinking, I never will. 

Because in this pragmatic nightmare my ideal of what works is only temporary so my pleasure is fleeting and temporal. 

In a meritocratic worldview, I am but the sum of my production. So how much is enough? How much can I accomplish to say, feel accomplished?

And who determines my work ethic or the value of that which I produce? Me?

Is that which I do, is it done for me? For you?

Why am I so anxious about doing things instead of finding comfort in being me. 

Introspection advises me that there is greater comfort in being than there is in retrospective doing.

Not that doing things is bad but if life becomes a thing by which we determine value and worth by what one accomplishes instead of what one is then there is no hope.

In that, I wage war against my own mindset that is rigged to function within a different world. 

What, then, should I do? I ask myself when the question should render:

Who should I be? 

So the conversation on this crisis is between what’s and who’s more so than where’s and when’s. 

The how is undetermined because our ways of thinking originated long before I was born, possibly, with the inception of our individualistic society. 

I derive pleasure and comfort from stopping, clearing, distancing, and breathing. 

If I stop to admire the clouds and the creatures that live and move and have their being under them, I am content. 

But if I stop there, under the sky, and reach for my phone I rob myself of an experience I then lose the authenticity of that moment thus robbing myself and the scene of contentment. 

I could look at clouds and make myself bothered by the need to make the same seen by others. 

Or I can gaze at creation and allow creation to gaze back at me. 

Knowing that this current state is finite I must, in this temporal form, understand that I must stop to admire things and people and just be

This gentle stance is ancient but has long been forgotten because our desire to constantly share and immerse others in our perception of reality is disastrous. 

Does it work? We ask.

Can I benefit from it? We inquire.

It is such a trap. Such an existential trap from which we seldom escape.

But these are thoughts of the wealthy and financially stable. 

Because I am neither I must retort to the old ways. I’ll rescind from these greater thoughts by continually seeking the practice of perpetual production and the lucrative nature and success of that which I produce. 

One day I won’t have to. None of us will. But until then, back to the machine I go. 

This post is a product of this same machine. 

Your reading of this post is a sign that you, too, are within this machine.

We’re reading the next article, next post, next blog, or person to see which of them work best for us.

And from there we share, comment, critique, and elaborate further upon it to profit, either financially or socially from the same. 

My writing and your reading, it is all part of it. 

We are cogs in a machine subconsciously begging for a systems failure warning.

Maybe a flat tire so we have enough time to realize that we’re part of it in the first place.

Either way, my next step is probably a step back.

A step toward being.

As I have been created to be. For we are human beings, not human doings. 

Too often, I have gone against the grain, the fiber of who I am. Who we all are. 

Maybe I’ll become a chef. 

Written with an anxious heart,

Olivet Theory


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Published by olivettheory

My name is Jarrel and I'm a lover of words, people, odd behaviors, theology, independent films, all-immersive RPGs, Christian metal, podcasts, and history. Not in that order. I'm a writer... in training. Let’s read and talk about things together. This is my Olivet Theory. Husband - Dad - Dude

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