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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Don't Just Do Something: Stand There!

Years ago, when I first heard a friend utter the phrase "Don't just do something: stand there!" I never imagined I'd carry it with me for a couple of decades.  Even today, that unique twist on a familiar phrase is an admonishment when I am up to my neck in alligators and feel as if I must do something to beat them off NOW!

I am also getting a similar lesson from my little dog, Migo.  I gave him that name (short for Mi Amigo) because of his penchant for tearing through the house like the Warner Bros. cartoon character "Speedy Gonzales”.  That is, his name is pronounced "Me Go!" 

Yet, despite these bursts of incredible energy, 
Mi Amigo is also capable of remaining completely still.
And, since I am on the other end of the leash, I need to be still, too. 

Believe me, the first time or two Migo just sat in the middle of the grass, my instinct was to tug on the leash to make him "go" again.  But Migo is so small (13 pounds), that tugging seemed almost cruel.  Instead, I decided to wait with him, until he was ready to move. 

The results have already been fascinating.  Migo can remain almost motionless, sitting or lying in the grass, with just his nose twitching nonstop, as if he is "reading" the scents on the air.  He can focus on the smallest things - a nearly microscopic spider in the grass - or the silliest things - the inflatable "Shamu" idly floating on the surface of my neighbor's swimming pool.  A branch rustling.  A rabbit two yards up.  His concentration is incredible.  And is an activity in itself.  Often, after ten or fifteen minutes of just taking in the world around him, Migo will shake himself off and head back to the house.

In those same moments, I have been able to discern from which trees the cicadas are calling.  I have reacquainted myself with clouds passing overhead. During this recent heat wave, I have felt almost imperceptible breezes.  I have watched lightning bugs hover and bats flutter. 

Oh, I have a lot on my plate right now.  Or, as I like to say, I have a lot of plates spinning, like those performers on the old Ed Sullivan Show. I am always so worried how long I can keep them in the air.  When I am anxious that my plans might not work out, when the balance sheet refuses to balance, when I'm not making the progress I should be making, my first impulse is to do something...anything...

Sometimes, though, as I have learned in life and am relearning from Migo, when things are most hectic and I am most unsettled, the prudent action is no action at all.  Migo has reminded me that I often get my best answers when I just stand there…and let the answers come to me.


  1. As I consider early retirement from doing the work I love, it has been important for me to slow down/stop and notice the rest of my life. Hitting the pause button has helped me reconnect with the many other facets of my life that I also love

  2. Mary - this is a great reminder. Migo is adorable, and apparently wise. Times when I feel like I can't take a break are when I need one the most. If I take even just a few moments to breathe deeply, or examine the flowers, I return to my work calmer and more productive.

  3. AnonymousJuly 12, 2012

    I really liked this. It has different applications for different people, with a very soothing, quieting common thread for all of us. I'm sharing it on my FB page so others can enjoy it also. Thanks!