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Blog #15 – reflection on the year – “having and being”

What a year hey! What a big three years?

Think of your December 2019, when you might have been planning for 2020.

And then look at what happened as COVID the great disrupter arrived.

Thinking about it reminds me of the adage ‘planning is essential, but plans are useless’ – a mantra I find very useful.

I love planning, and so I will lean into 2023 with planned and conscious intentions, also aware it might all unravel as life unfolds.

As I pause and consider the year past and my planning for the year ahead, I also thought of Erich Fromm’s classic book on ‘being’ and ‘having’ - differentiating two modes of being in the world. I ask myself, what’s been my primary mode?

Through the lens of ‘having’ – during 2022, I’ve had two part-time jobs (at Hummingbird Hospice and Community Praxis Co-op, a new marriage (woohoo); a journey to South Africa, the output of 15 blogs, 20 podcasts, a new book and so much more.

But through the lens of ‘being’, I wonder, how have I been in my work and marriage, in my community and among my friendships? Have I been present, loving, alive, responsive, curious and careful? Were my trips in regional Queensland and overseas about lots of activity (a mode of having) or genuine connections and experiences (a mode of being)? Have my blogs, a book and podcasts come from an authentic voice that has effect in the world or about 'getting stuff done'?

Fromm’s framing of modes of being – ‘having or being’ – is a helpful way of recognising that a more powerful and potent action flows from being. 'To have' is to be in the mode of consumption and extraction - the predominant gestures of our culture. Perhaps the best plans for 2023 are to lean more into the mode of being.

I’d love to hear from you what a ‘mode of being’ means?

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