Sunday, December 28, 2008

A new path

For many years of my adult life, I have been a multi-tasking, relationships, classes, performances, projects, callings, more classes, etc. etc.... "Take it all on!" "Sleep when you're dead!" "I'd rather burn to ashes...and...streak across the sky!", I thought. But, over the past year or so, I have been slowly stepping back from this approach. Gradually, I began to realize that I felt like a boxer in the ring, either preparing to "take it all on", pulse pumping, gloves pounding, adrenaline coursing or I was exhaustedly picking myself up off the mat after the round was over, feeling "dead" and "burnt to ashes". Didn't I know any better way?

One of my clearest childhood memories is of being kept after school with my kindergarten teacher to finish up my worksheet from that day. I was not a fast-working, multi-tasking kindergartner. In fact, I always took longer than everyone else to finish. That day, Mrs. R was making a point (to me? to herself? to my mom?) of just how slow I was. When I finally finished and left, the schoolyard and playground were deserted. Even my friend and next-door neighbor, who was supposed walk home with me and who said he would wait for me, was gone. A touch of panic at being left behind, forgotten, lost and neglected, all because I was slow, crept in. I don't know that this impacted my school habits, but now my slowness induced feelings of fear and guilt.

As I have been revisiting the pace of my life, this memory comes back to me, along with other times in school where I found myself behind in my timing. Those experiences always involved judgment on myself. Yet, I love the drawing out of time I feel when I visit a beach or a fabric store or a gallery or a new mountain vista. I often want to dawdle on a project or spend all day in the kitchen. I enjoy spending an hour in the morning writing in my journal. For all of my "pack-it-in" approach, I am rediscovering that I really like to work at a slow, focused, all-the-time-in-the-world pace. A friend once told me she likes to take trips with me because I love the moment and time is never an issue. That sounds like a good thing, right? Oh, how I want to reclaim this way of living! Is it possible? Is it practical?

I am bouncing back and forth a bit...trying to find a slower pace, but not succeeding...or succeeding a bit, but then getting overwhelmed by what then gets neglected. I find myself in a place of confusion and even grieving...confused as to how to balance the demands of daily living and this way of being that feels peaceful to me...grieving that this way of working and being has been lost to me for so long...wondering if I can ever have it back. It seems that Mrs. R and Mr. Life don't support my kindergarten worksheet approach of slow and focused.

However, I think I may stay here for a while, sorting out how to reclaim this lost thing and honor the beauty of my kindergartner approach. I know it can't be the only approach to my life, but for now, I have some worksheets that need some serious dawdling and doodling attention.

p.s. These photos are from a solo hike in Alaska last fall...a time I was able to just be, for as long as I wanted...or at least until dark. :)


Amy @ Park City Girl said...

First your pictures are beautiful! I'm sure that was an amazing experience. Balance is one of the hardest things to ever achieve - frustrating for me too - I hope that you are able to get there or find a new balance. I know for me I've had to let some things go, or decide that now is not the time for me to pursue certain things, usually crafty things :) Blessings - Amy

Jessica said...

I am completely in the same boat. How to balance it all...I don't know. It seems that in the slow life things get left behind, but in the fast life things aren't done the way I want them anyways and then I feel like I'm not really living. I guess it's always a process, isn't it?

cjs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol E. said...

Good luck in your journey. Those pictures are awesome. If you can re-claim the peace you felt on that solo hike, and use it to help you through your daily life, you will find some balance, I think. Remember it's just our culture and society that say working at break-neck speed is good. There are other ways to live, and it is worth pursuing those other options. Have fun while you search!

Maria Rose said...

I really relate to the post. I am constantly struggling with how to pace myself.

Anonymous said...

I love this. I learned to live life slower several years ago...and then I had to learn it again a couple of years ago, because it's way too easy for busyness to creep in. And I'm glad I found your post, cuz I'm getting more busy lately (and more cranky).

There needs to be all types of gals in the world. I'd like to be one of the ones who savor things a bit longer.