Human…Being


seashell

It’s December 18th, 2014. Though I currently have a secure seat on a barreling freight train, I know in another week or so, the year will glide quietly to a more peaceful close; almost imperceptible if it weren’t for Times Square—though, to be honest, I can’t recall the last time I made it much past 10:30. A girlfriend of mine sent me an email subject line: how is your heart? Though moving apace into my fifth decade on the planet (don’t forget the teen years count as one), I didn’t think she was inquiring after my cardiac health. Instead, with a gentleness and grace and a rare sincerity, she inquired about my being. And my being, for that gentle inquiry, felt, well, lovely actually.

My being, my humanness, my heart, my love center, my energy…because I am, after all, a human BEING though more often I feel like a human DOING. My friend’s email included an article written by Duke Professor Omid Safi. I can’t take credit for the cleverness of the distinction between “human being” and “human doing”—that is all Professor Safi—but I have fully adopted the notion—perhaps the hilarity—that we don’t as humans “be” very well.

But I don’t mind DOING. In fact I think doing brings us exciting projects and doing enhances a skill base that brings exquisite craft and process management to our projects and doing means I get to meet the most extraordinary people who live and work and thrive in this terrific part of the country. But then, after all the doing, I suppose being is important too.

formal-sitting-roomAs professor Safi said, being, in “a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill.” He inquired about what happened to a world like this? I think it is here. I see it in front of me at a site meeting when we sit in silence as an architect sketches out a casework detail, allowing his hand to articulate what his words cannot. I see it when two project managers navigate a process approach and one allows the other to prevail…because the other idea is better. I see it in a trade who comes back to a job site to perfect his craft even though his financial reward was long paid off. I see it in the soft smile of a client as she opens the door and welcomes me in.

After all of the previous months of Human Doing I am ready to cherish a little Being. I like the idea of slow conversations that can unfold and end far from wherever they started. But I thank you for your generosity and the opportunity to DO. It keeps me vibrant and alive.

My heart is filled to the brim. And so, may I ask, how is your heart?

Professor Safi’s article

Warm regards,
Allison