Do You Have Direction?

by Belinda Munoz on March 22, 2010


More and more, I’ve been thinking that this is a trick question.  Want to know why?


There’s a scene in the movie called Clueless by director Amy Heckerling where Josh (played by Paul Rudd) is giving Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) driving lessons around Beverly Hills.  Josh accuses Cher of having no direction other than toward the mall.  Cher gets defensive, but later secretly considers if this statement is true.

At the time when I first saw this movie in 1995, I didn’t question Josh’s judgment of Cher.  Cher’s lack of ability to drive seemed to extend beyond operating a vehicle.  She seemingly favored the fluffy things in life and didn’t appear concerned about her future beyond what cute outfit to wear the next day. 


Looking back, I’m convinced that we’re all a little bit if not a lot like Cher when it comes to mapping and navigating our proverbial road. Well, sure.  Some of us are groomed to become the next something or other.  And yes, some of us have very little trouble getting an education or a job or whatever else seems like the logical next step.

But how many of us are now living our dream future exactly as we envisioned it in the past when, say, we were five years old? Ten years old? Fifteen years old? How many of us predicted twenty years ago that we would be where we are now?


I don’t mean to burst any bubbles, but it seems to me all this direction talk doesn’t exactly lead where it purports to go.  Some of us follow said direction; not missing a turn, obeying all traffic rules, making pit stops when appropriate, and paying toll as required.

And yet.

When we get to where we thought we wanted to go, ooops, suddenly it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  This  much hyped up destination isn’t all love, laughter, puppies and cupcakes like the commercials or billboards say.

Oh, no. There’s pain, suffering and loneliness at the top. Yup. And guess what?  There’s more.  There’s a feeling of isolation worse than being on Alcatraz.  There’s this not-enoughness that sticks to our skin that no exfoliating concoction can peel away.  And the emptiness?  It sometimes feels like a gaping hole almost big enough to see through to other destinations we could’ve picked.

How is this possible?

I don’t really have an answer for you.  And I’m guessing (aren’t we all?) neither do you for me.  As far as I know, we’re all walking wounded, wondering, wandering.  I’m on this vast road, just like you, where we sometimes get a flat, get rear-ended, get sideswiped or get pulled over.  If we’re lucky, we might bump into kindred souls who have a faint clue where we’ve been or where we’re going.


Forget direction? It’s one option. Take humanitarian and writer Greg Mortenson for example, the subject of the books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. He didn’t set out to promote peace by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan when he was five, or ten or fifteen. And yet that is exactly what he does now.  He was a mountaineer, for pete’s sake, who was also a soldier who had a nursing degree. His direction that led him to his life’s work was, uh, circuitous, to say the least.

Direction.  Isn’t this the whole reason there’s so much talk about finding your passion, meaning, self? We’re lucky to even know what anything is (do you know what a Director of Advancement does?), let alone what we want to be when we grow up.

Maybe it’s less about doing.

I mean, c’mon.  How hard is it to do?  How hard is it really to be productive?  To get anything done?  To complete a project?  Or at least to start something? OK. I get that sometimes we procrastinate. I get that sometimes we don’t act on our dreams because we’re afraid.  I even get that sometimes we don’t know where or how to begin.

But are we undercutting ourselves by fueling the high-priced self-help section at Borders?  We’ve all done things, haven’t we?  Do we really need books upon books to find motivation to do things?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever completed anything from beginning to end.  I’m not convinced the problem is that we don’t know how to do things.

So, if it’s not so much about doing, maybe it’s more about being.

  • Being kind.
  • Being responsive.
  • Being compassionate.
  • Being sympathetic.
  • Being real.
  • Being loving.
  • Being forgiving.
  • Being accepting.
  • Being generous.
  • Being grateful.
  • Being yourself.
  • Being human in the best way possible.


Inasmuch as we’re led to believe that our seeking can be answered by doing, still, we find that when we do, we continue to seek.  No wonder we often hear people asking if this is all there is to life.

So, here’s a crazy thought: if all this doing we’re doing isn’t leading us toward happiness (or whatever it is we seek), then hey, why not celebrate for no reason?  Put on a glam diva outfit for no reason.  Bake a cake for no reason.  Kick off those shoes and twirl and whirl for no reason.  Break bread with strangers for no reason.  Sip good wine for no reason.  Light candles for no reason.

Because, I don’t know, maybe by celebrating for no reason, we’ll start appreciating being alive and stop wondering if this is all there is to life.


What are your thoughts about doing versus being? Have you ever realized your dream and found yourself wanting more? Do you think we’re all guessing, or do you believe there are those of us who truly have answers? Do you ever celebrate for no reason?


Image by kopfjager (OFF – AWAY)

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracy Todd March 22, 2010 at 5:25 am

There was a time in my life when I was all about “doing”. Then I broke my neck and was paralyzed from the neck down. It was a harsh way to learn a valuable lesson that “being” is worth so much more than “doing”. I’ve learned that in an ideal world the best option is to be “doing” with the understanding and experience of “being”.

I loved this post!


2 Tony Single March 22, 2010 at 6:34 am

Belinda, I am impressed by this article. I hope you won’t mind me sharing it with my friends via Facebook. I want some of them to see this too. 🙂

Doing vs being is a conundrum that I’ve had to face my entire adult life. Nothing I’ve ever set out to do has ever worked out. I’m most certainly not living my dream. Far from it.

Perhaps some of it is because of bad choices I’ve made, or lack of motivation. Perhaps I just wasn’t the right person for this, that or the other. Perhaps I didn’t pray enough or utilise the correct kind of magical thinking to effectively realise my dreams. It feels like I’ve driven myself to the point of insanity trying to work out at what point it all went wrong…

Doing has gotten me nowhere, but so has inaction. So where does that leave me? Well, asking myself if being is as acceptable as doing. According to society’s standards? Probably not. By my standards? It probably needs to be if I don’t want to end up gassing myself in someone’s car!

In short, perhaps there doesn’t need to be a point. Doing is just doing because that’s what we do with the time we’re given, whereas simply being requires nothing of us because… well, we’re already here.

So, here’s a question of my own. Could doing, looked at a certain way, be considered a curse? Could simply being be considered a blessing?

Okay, so that was two questions. 😛


3 Positively Present March 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

I love this post and I love the idea of celebrating for no reason!


4 Vani March 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

Wonderful post….love the ideas you are playing with. Got me thinking…. 🙂


5 Eva March 22, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Belinda, your last paragraph is the heart of this whole discussion to me. Let’s start celebrating for no reason! Don’t wait for an excuse, just do it today. So funny about all the things we save for a special occasion – the good china, a new dress – only to not use them at all.

This makes me think of my college roommate, P. She loved to have fun, and would always chide me: “You can sleep when you’re dead, Eva!” Now, I do love my sleep, but she had a point. Have fun today, stop overthinking it, just do.


6 Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Well, what I’m going to say probably won’t surprise you, Belinda. All this seeking and striving and doing, then ending up feeling empty when you reach the goal, is probably because the essence of seeking is really inner not outer: a deeper relationship with our essence, our soul, if you will. Outer striving doesn’t usually cut it for that. But we keep doing it because it makes sense to our egos, which are really good at driving the car and getting us someplace. And don’t get me wrong, we need some of that. But we have too much of it, ironically leading us to feel that not-enoughness that you speak of. I guess Joseph Campbell nailed it when he said: “Midlife is when you reach the top of the ladder and find that it was against the wrong wall.” The danger, though, is that we often go out looking for another wall to climb, rather than realizing the ladder is actually inside, asking us to climb down to meet ourselves.

Thanks, Belinda, for another wonderful post!


7 Baker March 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Insightful article here. I agree with you, the BEING part is where the juice in life is really at. When we come from a place of joy and positive intention we are more free to do a lot of the doing that is more in alignment with who we are.

I find that my direction gets more clear when I operate from a place of true being and joy everything else just takes care of itself and lessens in value when I’m here. 🙂



8 Angela Artemis March 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Belinda, Thank you for this insightful post. I can relate to where you wrote about striving to get somewhere by doing only to find that once you’d arrived it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. So true. I spent 16 years in the corporate world climbing the corporate ladder only to find that when I’d arrived I didn’t want to be there at all! Re-inventing ourselves and our lives without becoming a human-doing all over again is a real challenge.


9 Sara March 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Belinda — I love reading your posts:~) You have such a knack for taking me on a wander and yet, allowing me to discover that my “wander” took me someplace special.

I can’t resist telling you how much I loved and laughed at this line from this post, “There’s this not-enoughness that sticks to our skin that no exfoliating concoction can peel away.” This is great visual imagery!!

Thanks for giving me such excellent life directions:~) Right now, I am heading outside to sit peacefully on my porch and enjoy “being alive.”


10 Rudri March 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Nice post Belinda. I think we do get caught up in the destination without thinking how we feel when finally reach our goal. I was one of those people who mapped everything out, only to realize I was meant to do something else entirely. Schedules may work on daily goals, but not so much in planning your whole life. You have to be prepared for unexpected good and bad surprises.


11 Celeste March 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Ah, the eternal struggle between doing and being. I think you are right on. If there is truly an answer it is that doing will never make us truly happy, truly satisfied. And it is likely that, as humans, there is no such thing as complete happiness and satisfaction. But I think the point is that by turning our focus on being we will surely get closer. My mind knows these things to be true, but i have yet to translate this knowledge into a lifestyle that encourages just being. It is too uncomfortable, too, well, unproductive. You can’t physically see the benefits. Innately I fear that if I stop doing, striving, working toward one goal or another that I will miss something and I only have one shot at this life. But I am working on it. Thank you for reminding me!


12 Greg Blencoe March 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Hi Belinda,

Perhaps there should be a lot more emphasis on living in the present.

I can tell you that there is no way that I could have envisioned the past 20 years of my life unfolding like it has. The problem with having long-term plans is that they don’t account for our growth along the way. When you grow, you change. And when you change, you go down different paths.

While I don’t think goals or long-term plans are bad, maybe we should build in a little more flexibility. I try to keep them in the back of my mind. They are there, but they are also not set in stone. The world is changing so fast that not being flexible seems rather pointless.

Just think about it, look at how much blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. have changed people’s lives. And how important were they to most of us five years ago?

A friend of mine once told me, “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.”

If we live in the present, follow our hearts, do what we love, etc., everything should work out just fine. And we will probably really enjoy the journey no matter where the destination ends up being.


13 BK March 23, 2010 at 1:32 am

That is the wondrous and excitement of life; there is no guarantee that anyone who follows the same set of instructions can get to the same place. And even if they do, expectation would be different and suddenly “…it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” And yet are we to stay motionless and not move forward? Some may do just that and in the end they would find that they are not living life at all. Life should simply be enjoying the ride as it may come. Just be.


14 Phil - Less Ordinary Living March 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Happy days Belinda – great post. I like the idea of being rather than doing. It brings us back to the present and being the best we can in that instant. When I was running the other day, I saw a couple on a bench in the park. She was admiring the flowers, he was lying across the bench with his head on her lap staring at the blue spring sky with skittering clouds. Now that is the direction I aspire to. It is lovely to just be for a while. The direction will come from a deeper self if we stop to listen for 5 minutes. Brilliant!



15 Lauren March 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm


You’ve done it again – amazing post! I LOVE the photo too.

“It sometimes feels like a gaping hole almost big enough to see through to other destinations we could’ve picked”. That statement is so poignant.

Just the other day I was talking with a friend about how interesting it is to consider how different our lives would be if we had made just one decision to go down a different path (a job, a place to live, a partner).

Yet, I love what Abraham-Hicks has said: If we are enjoying a great meal do we think about the delicious meal we could be having down the street?

I love so much your invitation to celebrate just because. The more times I circle around the sun, the more I become convinced that for me it is the being not the doing that provides the joy in life.

Funny that I am saying that when I am immersed in the doing at the moment. Yet, when the doing involves following my passion, it feels like it becomes part of the being.


16 BigLittleWolf March 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I worry about the ones who have all the “answers.” I feel as though I have a few answers – for now – and always more questions.

As for doing and being, I need both. But the nature of what I am doing, and how I am being are both much more important to me, as I grow older. I want my contributions – in product or in kindness – to matter. I think I always have. I also want my “being” to be filled with questions, because that is how we learn, which of course grows more questions, and so we are infinitely expanding. And that seems good, to me.

Not easy, but good. And somehow, in all this, we still have live. Food, home, caring for kids. For each other. Practical matters. And therein lies the dilemma, for many of us.

A very thoughtful discussion, as usual.


17 Kristen @ Motherese March 23, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Such a thoughtful post and such wonderful discussion in the comments. Like many previous commenters, I doubt that I would have imagined my current situation accurately. What do I do? I mother. (Well, maybe that part I would have predicted, or at least hoped for.) I write. I love. I think a lot about the future. But I suspect that I might have predicted some of my states of being. And how do I “be”? I am happy. I am loved. I am (nevertheless) anxious. Your post has helped me to think about structuring my future goals as states of being and then contemplating the kinds of doing that come from them.


18 Belinda Munoz March 24, 2010 at 1:17 am

@Tracy, I love this: the best option is to be “doing” with the understanding and experience of “being”. Thank you for your fierce dedication to live life fully.

@Tony, I wouldn’t mind at all! I so appreciate your enthusiasm for digging deep and for thoughtful questions and I’m very grateful for all that you share with me and us here. I do want to address one particular thing in your comment. I seriously doubt that doing has gotten you nowhere. Your drawings got me as fan! While I think that it’s healthy and natural to wonder why certain things didn’t work out, it’s just as important to accept that sometimes, we may not be asking the right questions or if we are, there are simply no answers; and letting go of certain questions can free us to pursue the quality of life that we (all of us) deserve. As for measuring our worth according to society’s standards, a couple quick issues I have are: these standards may be due for a re-thinking and possibly an overhaul and why do these standards persist when they make so many people miserable? As for your questions, I have no answers and you probably guessed I’d say that. I generally don’t believe in curses and prefer to focus on the blessings. Thanks for contributing so much value to these discussions!

@Dani, thank you and me, too!

@Vani, welcome to The Halfway Point! Thank you for your comment.

@Eva, ha ha! That’s a wise college roommate! And yes, every day is an occasion to celebrate! Thanks!

@Patty, you said that so clearly and perfectly. The ego, the soul, all this seeking we do; I guess it’s a matter of patience and faith? I’m far from anti-doing but I’m better at not getting sucked in so deep that I neglect the being part. I love that Joseph Campbell quote and your illustrating that the ladder is to be climbed down to meet ourselves. Thank you for yet again more beautiful words full of wisdom.

@Baker, so true. Starting from a place of joy and positive intention lights the path that make the doing a happy part of the being.

@Angela, welcome to The Halfway Point! Thank you for sharing your experience and your insight here. I love that you make a distinction between human doing and human being. Knowing there’s a difference surely makes a difference, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by.

@Sara, thank you very much! I love your posts, too as well as your beautiful photographs, and I’m privileged to be able to take you on a wander. Glad I made you laugh! I can just picture you loving being alive on your porch, snapping pretty photos of flowers, birds and trees and singing a happy tune. Thank you for making me smile.

@Rudri, isn’t it interesting how that works. I agree that life is for living and not for planning. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

@Celeste, I think you bring up a universal concern, that if we commit to one path, we are missing out on other paths, and not seeing the benefits doesn’t get us the gold stars that our egos crave. I’m not at all advocating for not doing because I think we have an innate and imperative need to do when we are able. I think too much focus on doing at the expense of quality being fails to honor our multifacetedness and takes us away from paying attention to, I don’t know, a baby learning to say new words or a potential new friend that’s entered our life. Thanks for joining the discussion and I’m enjoying Perusing Celeste!

@Greg, I just love how rich your comments are! Yes, it seems we say it often enough: live in the moment, one day at a time, etc. etc. But because we’re taught to value doing at an early age (oh, look, the baby can walk! or hey, you can ride a bike!) and this is reinforced throughout school but the being part doesn’t get much air time. We don’t ever get homework to BE. You make a great point about long-term plans not accounting for growth. It’s just like with any business or non-profit, I guess. When we create projections and predictions, the very nature of these words factor in flexibility. I love your friend’s quote. And your last paragraph, I wholeheartedly agree. Many thanks.

@BK, good point! We have different expectations and get different results. Who exactly set society’s standards, right? Enjoy the ride sounds so much better than check the tires, adjust the speed, recalibrate the route, follow the map, etc. Thanks for your insight!

@Phil, I so want to be in the park watching clouds right now. And the inner direction, I can tell you know a lot about that, too. Thanks!

@Lauren, thank you very much! I’m really enjoying your blog posts, too! It is interesting to ponder what could’ve been and I think it’s natural to wonder about how different our realities would be if we’d done one thing different. I’m really loving celebrating for no reason. It can be very simply executed but the boost is tremendous. Thanks for sharing the Abraham-Hicks quote. I may have done that once or twice (but I’m like that with food sometimes : ) I can tell that the doing you’re immersed in comes from your passion. You have a great way of exuding happiness. Seems funny to say that as I’ve only experienced you in print online, but you do, you do. Thanks for adding so much meat into the discussion!

@BigLittleWolf, I love your point about the importance of refashioning life as we grow. Doing and being are both important, but the evidence of how much more focus is put on doing and how much less on being is worrisome. If there’s ever any talk of being from an established voice, it’s often predicated upon doing: be happy by doing this or that, etc. As for peppering the being with questions, I say what an enriching way to be! And yes, not always easy to do since we do still have to put food on the table, shuttle the kiddies around and the whole lot of doing that goes with living. Thank you for your beautiful and honest words.

@Kristen, one of the big joys in life is to find something in common with others. With you I have a few things in common: I mother, I write, I love. As for being, I am also happy and loved and sometimes anxious. I’m glad this post has helped you in some way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here and at your awesome blog Motherese!


19 Cheryl Paris March 24, 2010 at 1:58 am

Dear Belinda,

Beautiful post! I am so glad to have read the article. Yes – life is about ‘being’ and avoid the ‘doing’ part.
Yes, I do celebrate without a reason as It feels good and kind of gives me motivation. You guys might want to try that! It is a different feeling.

Bye for now,
Cheryl Paris Blog


20 Zengirl @happy heart and mind March 24, 2010 at 2:23 am


Very thought provoking post. I too sometimes feel similarly about not having clear and concise directions, some time my life is happening when I am making other plans 🙂 Even with my blogging it is the same.


21 Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities March 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Fantastic post. We live in a world that prizes agency and accomplishment. And I think we get caught up in this culture of doing and lose track of how important being – and celebrating mere being – is. My brain is still buzzing from Gretchen Rubin’s talk last night, but she talked about the “arrival fallacy” – that we all believe that if we do a certain something, reach a certain goal, we will be happy and how this is rarely true. Perhaps we should all slow. Stop. Focus on our own breath. On the good fortune of being.


22 Liberty March 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Reading your blog actually tells me that I do practice “being”. I love wearing new clothes or shoes and would not wait for any special occasion. One time, I wore this new outfit in the office and when I got to this meeting someone commented “you are in a different season”. I even had to explain that it was chosen by my nephew and I chose to wear it since I’ll be seeing him that night. Oh well…I love the outfit so I don’t care about the comment :-).

I do admit that most of the time, I am more into “doing” (need to get the job done) that sometimes I would forget that I am dealing with my staff who are human beings. Anyway, I try to be constantly cautious knowing that this is my weakness. Every morning I would pray ” Oh Holy Spirit soul of my soul, I adore you. Enligthen, strenghten, guide and console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it. I promise to be permissive in everything that you permit to happen. Show me only what is Your will.”. I do find it very effective.

Belinda, thanks for the blog.


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