In the past few days, I’ve seen myself taking part in several conversations regarding “concrete action” and often opposing it to reflection and talk. I love the word concrete and its etymology. It comes from the Latin cum and crescere which means “to grow with”. In this post we’ll talk about being and doing and how the two are related to growing – which I see as being able to make sense of whatever happens to us.

To grow with… what ?

What I like most about cum crescere is that it implies movement in one’s life. Growing is a form of movement, literally and figuratively. It is also a form of action. So, what do we grow with ? My take on this, is we grow with every experience we go through as long as we are able to perceive it as a meaningful event, an opportunity to learn more about our selves and the world we live in.

Red on top –

If we take this a little bit further, the perception I just mentioned seems to me related to consciousness. Not in terms of “greater consciousness” or the like. I’m talking about the ability to experience life in a conscious way. I see a difference between engaging in a given activity in a conscious way and doing the same activity without that quality of presence.

Making it concrete

It seems to me that more important than the difference between talking (conversations), reflecting (thoughts) and “hand-making” (physical action) – which I find all to be forms of action, is to engage in such activities with our full attention and presence. From such a perspective, what makes whatever we do concrete is our ability to grow with it.

This takes me back to the title of this post “being and doing”. The ability to grow with what we do seems to me related to both our being and our doing. Indeed, the quality of our presence and attention in any given activity depends on our state of being and our own way of nurturing that state. This is where being and doing meet, for good and for the better !

A very beautiful drawing –

“Human-being meet Human-doing”

Our state of being has an influence on our ability to perceive different experiences as learning opportunities. And, whatever we do has also an influence on our state of being. This may seem obvious, in theory. When it comes to practice, it is often a bit less obvious. Habits, schedules, unexpected events, daily interactions and other challenging situations may make it hard to perceive certain experiences as learning opportunities. Sometimes, it may even seem that some experiences make our life unnecessarily more complicated. Yet, when we take the time to reflect upon what we went through, we often end up seeing learning opportunities even in the most challenging situations.

We all have our own ways of cultivating our being, thus nourishing our ability “to grow with” whatever happens. It often comes down to doing something we love. Other activities include spending time in natural environments, contemplative arts, dancing, exercise, writing, etc.

To grow, and grow, and grow…

The relationship between being and doing could be described – for the sake of simplicity – as a loop : our ability to grow (being) allows us to see our experiences as learning opportunities (doing), which turns into a greater ability to grow, and so on. Being aware of this, and engaging consciously in whatever we are doing helps us perceive such learning opportunities. The more we practice, by taking the time to nurture a state of being that suits us, the easier this process becomes and the more we foster our ability to grow.

Tree of half life –

I hope this way of embracing the concrete may contribute to your life by having somewhat of a “liberating effect”, as it emphasizes the fact that we can grow with all experiences, regardless of their nature. Balance, as often, seems to be an appropriate measure in terms of how much talking, reflecting and « hand-making » we engage in. As they say in Québec, “too much is the same as not enough”.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel welcome to add your voice by leaving a comment below or writing to us[@]


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2 Responses to Being and doing : a perfect dance ?

  1. carlos eduardo dit :

    Me encantó la claridad del estilo y los conceptos prácticos y profundos.