Be still. When times are difficult, many of us think we should get up and get moving. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth century mystic wrote, "I need to be silent for a while, worlds are forming in my heart." During the times we thing we're being "unproductive," the seeds of new worlds are germinating within us, and they need peace to grow.
I like this, because--though I'm not feeling particularly low or depressed right now--I am certainly feeling quiet, and it's helpful to have some words to describe that feeling. Cyclically speaking, I struggle a little to get motivated for work this time of year, and some projects that typically feel important to me wane in importance. The pile of to-dos and to-be-reads grows larger on my desk, and I find myself drifting off more. I even exercise with less intensity, and sleep more. Socially, I feel much more inept.
And I need a lot more coffee.
My friend N. has always urged me to be kind to myself at these times because things are happening, in my brain and in the world, without me being fully cognizant of them. These times are important and regenerative. I think that's what Martha (and Eckhart) are getting at as well.
As I get older, I'm finding it a little easier to be patient with my ebbs and flows in this way, even though I think so much in our world (in the US, especially) pushes us to be all-productive, all the time. I'm happy to resist this, both for my health and sanity and just because thinking of ourselves as automatons sucks.
I wonder, though, if it's frustrating for my family and coworkers? Do they need/want me to be productive and active when I feel most like being quiet? And what is my responsibility to them in return if they do need that? What if, in fact, we all need some quiet, and I can lead us into that?