Just Dream It, Just Be It, Just Do It
The One with the Landwalker and the Opposite Behavior Sisters
Years go by and a story I heard as a child continues to haunt me. It is the story of two sisters who receive as a guest a stroller who is passing through. One of them, we suppose the older sister, is busy with household chores, she works a lot, like the ant in Aesop’s fable and she wants to have everything ready and receive him in the best possible way in her house. The other, the younger sister, on the other hand, sitting at the foot of the barefeet walker, listens to his words without doing anything, apparently like the cicada in the same Aesop’s fable.
Tired, the industrious little ant says, not to the cicada relative, but to the visitor sitting between them demanding for the passivity of her sister: “Do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me”. The claim is heard fair and reasonable. Anyone would have responded by asking the cicada to move and help. But this man did not do that. Imagining the smiling face of him listening to the complaint and with a happy response, he repeats the name of that industrious woman and says: “You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Your sister has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her”
What is hidden in the picture of this scene of two sisters with two different attitudes and a good man? Is there a more appropriate or better attitude? The older sister represents the activity, the concrete, the current. Instead, the younger sister seems to symbolize laziness, the abstract, the ulterior. The older sister is restless and agitated, the younger sister seems calm and collected. Does that pedestrian criticize activity, diligence, work? No, he disapproves of the way in which the older sister demands from her readiness, internally divided between acting and ought to be. The younger sister remains united in herself, willing, attentive and open to the visitor. She is being her from being silent, she is doing from contemplating.
Even today people are divided like those two sisters. And that mysterious man continues to be a question mark. On one side of the walking character is the strength, creativity and intention to “earn a living” by moving, taking action and making tangible actions. A life of work is essential to fill it with meaning, but the stubborn activism of “doing for doing” can turn into vice the virtue of producing. On the other side of the discreet walker sits inaction, idleness and the stillness of “missing life” immobilized, serene and fixed. A life of listening and observing is essential to find meaning, but the passivity of static waiting can be transmuted into laziness.
What is life if not action? Why life without rest? The happiness of 1+3.
Every twenty-four hours we have a day that is divided into 1/3 of sleep and rest, 1/3 of leisure and familiarity and 1/3 of employment and effort. Our days should be the synthesis of the dialogue of that guest in the history who did not claim or reproach the action but praised attentive listening and contemplation. As long as we have someone like that as the pivot of our daily lives and the glue of each moment, the days will be fruitful, abundant and effective. If we get to synthetize our days like that a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing of happiness will be poured into our lap.
Today it’s just dream, just be, just do, all with the ‘J’. Tomorrow, God will say.