Yesterday was the first day of school here in Michigan, and the evidence of that was everywhere, including the weather. Mother Nature cooperated nicely, giving us a little foretaste of fall with some cooler air and hefty breezes that sent dry leaves and twigs scuttering about.
There was definitely something in the air yesterday – an ill wind was blowing, it seemed, for it was one of those days where everything that could go wrong, did. Nothing catastrophic or life altering, thank goodness, but a day chock full of minor annoyances which multiplied into a killer of a headache.
It was an unfortunate day for that to happen, because it was a day I had decided to embark on a new philosophy of living. I’ve been feeling a very real need to throttle back, to slow down the hectic pace of my life and relax. It’s an odd time to do that – just at the moment when fall activities are gearing up, I’m talking about winding down. But I think it’s more of an attitude adjustment than anything else. I tend to plunge headstrong into everything, full speed ahead, bull in a china shop sort of plunging. Just lately something has come over me, a very strong feeling like I’ve never felt before, urging me to breath deeply, slow down, look at things though a calmer and quieter lens.
I don’t always have an easy time with stillness. There’s a restlessness in me this past decade or so that I don’t recall having in my younger years. True, my life has been busier in many ways during the recent past, what with working, and caring for people, and musical activities, and dogs, and traveling…but even when I have the opportunity to rest and be still, I found it hard.
My friend M. was talking about her daily routine the other day. “Usually about 3:00 I go upstairs and lie on the bed to read for a while,” she said. “Sometimes I take a nap, but usually I read for an hour or so before it’s time to get dinner.”
For some reason my eyes filled with tears and my heart swelled with longing when she said that. To lie on the bed in the middle of the afternoon and “read for an hour or so.” Imagine the luxury of that! Then I remembered that I used to do that very thing nearly every day. When my son was small, I’d often go into the bedroom and lie on the bed while he napped, reading happily until he awoke when I’d pile him into his stroller and take off for our daily jaunt to the park.
Something in me needs that now, and I’m not sure what it is, but it’s a clear and strong feeling that I need to marshal my resources and live differently, to pay more attention to myself and what I need, to slow down my movements and my activities and the pace of my everyday existence.
Yesterday things were happening lickety split and problems were cropping up all over the place. But when I came home from work I made a conscious effort to go into my little room, curl up in the chair, and read for about 20 minutes. Just quiet reading, as they say in school.
It felt really good.
I’ve realized that my on-line activities have played a large part in the frantic nature of my lifestyle over the past few years. And while I’m not intending to stop writing here or at Bookstack ( in fact, I’m hoping to write more, because writing is one of the things that helps me make sense of life in general), I need to be more mindful of the time I spend on line and make it productive. With Twitter and Facebook, the tendency is to communicate so often and in such bursts of thought, it’s like our mind needs to be in hyper mode, vigilantly thinking in 140 character phrases, posting and reposting, engaging in the conversation.
It’s too much, I think.
I seem to recall writing about this before, about being spread too thin in terms of my commitments and activities, and I really have pared down my actual physical responsibilities. This time the need is different – it’s a slowing of the spirit that’s required, a need to use time in a more restful and mindful way.
Like lying on the bed and reading for an hour or so.
How about you? Are you winding down or gearing up in your life right now?