A Slow Life

If you’re any kind of thinking person at all, you learn as you get older. And based on your experiences, you learn different lessons. I’m in the stage of my life when the rushing, rushing, rushing that I’ve done for years just doesn’t appeal anymore. The lesson that I’m learning is that rushing doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to go any faster. 

Don’t get me wrong, this period of my life—the last few years—has been one of the most exciting, thrilling, adventurous, treacherous, scary, tough, emotional, draining, invigorating, frustrating periods of my life. So much has happened, so little has changed, everything is different, yet everything is the same.400px-Belize20D_250

But one thing that’s been at the center of it all is this break-neck rushing, doing anything and everything, in an attempt to feel like I’m getting somewhere, doing something with my life. Sometimes I look at the things I’ve accomplished and feel proud of myself. Sometimes I feel like a failure. But I keep pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion and…nothing. No cataclysmic, life-altering events. No epiphanies. No change in the status of my life. In the end, all that’s there is the exhaustion. And life is going by way too fast. I fear that I’m missing some of it.800px-Sign_SlowDown

I want to slow down. I always feared slowing down because I didn’t want to miss any opportunities. But I wonder, if I’m meant to receive certain opportunities, will I find them anyway, even if I trim my to-do list?

I was reading an article by Edward Behr, editor of Art of Eating magazine, 395px-Korean_Traffic_sign_(Slow)_svgabout the slow food scene. The piece is about, of course, slow food itself, but he also talks about how slow food fits in with a slow life. And he doesn’t mean slow in a disparaging way; he means it in the most positive way. 

One paragraph, in particular, really sums up what I think so many of us miss in the pursuit of achievement:

You’re living a slow life when you gather seashells along the shore, feed a campfire, visit a nearly empty museum on a weekday morning, talk late into the night, read an ink-on-paper book cover to cover without stopping to do much else, and, I would say, if you take the time to be bored. Part of being civilized is not just being slow but occasionally coming to a stop, establishing a point of reference for the moment when you start moving again. When you stop you aren’t really stopping, of course, because that’s often when good ideas rise to the surface.600px-Panama_P-53_svg

I got a little taste of this notion these past few months. By September, I’d burned out from writing, and, as many of you read here, I had a project that turned a little sour for me, which put me in a holding pattern for a while. Then the holidays set in. What this all amounted to was a slow-down in my writing production. I stressed about it, and yet I didn’t. And I’m now emerging from that. And I have ideas.

I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that from here on out, I’m going to be some Zen master by taking everything in stride, by not getting anxious about anything, by quietly letting everything happen in its natural course without trying to rush, or push, or prod. I’d be lying to myself if I made that claim. Nor do I wish to just sit idly and let opportunities for new experiences pass me by. But I think I’m ready to let go a little bit. I realized that I have no control over anything, so why fight it? 

(You can read Behr’s entire article HERE.)

800px-Slow!_Newt_Crossing
Photo: sethoscope via Wikimedia Commons

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “A Slow Life

  1. Well you know I think we all go through periods in our lives where we feel as though by doing everything in a hurried fashion will help us get to where we are going faster and we’ll be happier when we get there…that waking up and rushing to a job, taking the stairs two at a time is our purpose in life..that it’s the goal we have been striving to attain all our lives..but in the end of a busy, bustling life what do we really have..stress, illness and emptiness..it’s when we fully come to a stop…and take each day slower and less in a hurry that things really happen, we see ourselves, our lives and our goals much more clearly…and our ideas and creative side opens up…maybe what we all need is to come to full stop every once and awhile and live our lives slower. I came to this conclusion last year this time after a burnout too..mine was from volunteer and fostering with an animal rescue group..I did everything was so focused on those kittens I fostered 150 in three years in fast succession..those little lives needed me and I thought I needed them..but while I was doing it..while I was being so selfless I realized that being selfless meant I was also not thinking of my health, my happiness and my life..steeping away from things and people in life doesn’t mean you stop being a caring, loving person, it just means you start thinking about what makes you happy, healthy and loved.

    Like

  2. Loved this! My WIP is about this subject, as a sort of forced life event…the empty nest. Of course there is a twist to the emptying, but the feeling of going 100mph and then slowing or stopping to take notice of small way-points and listening and being and looking around–that’s a universal need. One learns an awful big lesson in silence and slow motion. It really is a time when you can become more!

    Like

  3. R.G., this is a good reminder. I just finished reading “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere”, by Pico Iyer. I found the profoundly simple idea of stopping to turn inward comforting and yet invigorating. “The idea behind Nowhere–choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward–is at heart a simple one. If your car is broken, you don’t find ways to repaint the chassis; most of our problems–therefore our solutions, our piece of mind–lie within.” I hope you find your solutions.

    Like

  4. You do have control….it is illusion to say otherwise. The wonderful part is that what you may control, can control, is everything…all that is thought, imagination (why you are a writer) reactions and even the creativity that is so very much a part of you. Choice is the conundrum, that “what if” place that sits and waits for your complete input. And THAT is where the slowing down is exactly what you need. Never fear writer, that creative edge will return when you choose it. Until then so enjoy the slowing down 🙂

    Like

Comments are closed.