Queen's University Queen's University

Other Ways of Thinking

hello, Thursday!

I’m working at a coffee shop this morning. I was feeling heavily tired when I got up this morning and couldn’t will myself to get down to work, amazing new work-schedule be damned (my start-at-10am-no-matter-what regiment is working well so far!).

So, I’ve taken myself out for coffee (sometimes you gotta just treat yourself!). Interestingly, as soon as I walked into this coffee shop I caught some of the energy from the other patrons and started to feel more awake/enthusiastic about my work almost immediately!

I bought myself a latte (that’s right -I’m living large today) and have settled in at a table where I can keep tabs on the activity in here. There are lots of energetic conversations going on all around me… it’s kinda great (though it’s a good thing I’m not trying to write an essay or something).

So, I was trying to figure out what I’d write today, when a friend sent me a link to give me more background on something we’d be talking about not too long ago. The notion is the Discipline of Do Easy. Also referred to as “DE”, my friend (who never seems stressed out or anxious) explained that it was generally the philosophy with which he liked to approach his own life.

First explored by William Burrough’s in an essay/short story (called, unsurprisingly, “Do Easy (DE)”), DE is (in Burrough’s own words) “a way of doing. It is a way of doing everything you do. DE simply means doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage which is also the quickest and most efficient way, as you will find as you advance in DE.”

In 1978, American filmmaker Gus Van Sant adapted the story for the screen. The resulting film, The Discipline of Do Easy, is here:

The Discipline of DE

It’s an entertaining piece of filmmaking — well worth a look.

In some ways, it’s hard to discern whether Van Sant really believes the philosophy he’s exploring, or whether the film was made with tongue firmly in cheek. But in a sense, it doesn’t matter. There’s still something here for us.

Much as our society would have us believe that the key to success is to push ahead, even when something feels difficult or stressful, it may not actually be the most efficient way to get things done. If we were to practice the discipline of DE, we might be able to allow ourselves more flexibility. Don’t feel like writing today, but want to read instead? Turn your attention there. Feel inspired and full of ideas? Turn to the keyboard. There is certainly something to be said for putting your attention in the place it will be most productive. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to laze on the couch in front of a sit-com all afternoon if you’re feeling uninspired, but it means (I think!) doing one of the other tasks on your to-do list that feels more suited to the way you’re feeling. Easy, right?

So that’s what I’m thinking about today. My coffee is done and a bright day is beckoning me out into the world….

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Student Perspective

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