It was pointed out to me recently that I need to slow down. I was surprised. I really work at taking my time, try to go slowly through my days with a conscious effort. I pointed this out, and my comment was met with laughter. The answer came in the form of an analogy: “you are on a road where people are going 140mph and you are going 100mph. So by comparison, to most people you are going slower; however, you need to compare yourself only to you. So when the comment to slow down comes it means slower for you, slower than you are doing presently.” I thought about it and thought about it some more an hour later as I drove past the Vons supermarket I was supposed to stop at. I was going to stop on the way to work so that I had a birthday treat for a student who had to come to class on her 22nd birthday, which seemed only fair. Slow down, oh yea, so this is what we do next huh? Slow down, stop over thinking, slower than I was moving, slower in my thinking, adding more space and less doing … again, still, oh hell… I hate this stuff sometimes.
My week was booked at work with back-to-back student meetings, an interview for another department, and clients sprinkled about. I sighed and looked at my calendar, carving out more space and setting a perimeter of “whatever comes” and letting it go. This is hard stuff, to slow down, to stay present, to be in the moment, to enjoy who you are with while you are with them. We know that moments are fleeting and precious, building blocks for a good day, a good week, a good life. I know this. I work at it but how to take it to the next level in a real, actionable and livable fashion I am not quite sure about, but I am working out those bits. Those thorny expectations of what my time should be, what is work, what is play and what percentage of productive is produced for ego or making sure I am not living in squalor, with no food, no utilities, dirty clothes and drunk as a fruit bat a fortnight past harvest.
The next morning in reading an article, a quote in it popped for me as a way to maybe find my way into this next level of slow down.
“We live under the power of modern consciousness, which means that we are obsessed with progress.
Wherever you are is not good enough.
We always want to achieve something, rather than experience something.
The opposite of this is spiritual consciousness.
By that I mean you find enchantment in every action you do, rather in just the results of your action.”
What I was being asked to do was indeed slow down. But it was also to disconnect from the notion of progress as a constructed future complete with expectations which fit my idea of success. So it is letting go of the precepts of if this then that, or cause and effect and inviting in the moment rather than the product of the moment. It is looking at not only finding space around my tasks and responsibilities, but also deepening those moments and finding the enchantment in doing them and not a result. This resonates with a pleasure-principled girl like me, I bring, find, and create fun everywhere I go. I tend to look for meaning and deepen those moments when I can catch myself and take a breath. This is asking to take it to the next level. To make all the moments of our lives sacred, filled with wonder, pleasure, meaning and learning. I know, I know this is a tall order. Not unlike me in three inch pumps and a pencil skirt. That being said it is a way to jump off the gerbil wheel which lives first in our head then manifests in our lives. We know what we believe, what we think, manifests in our behavior and in our world. When we embrace a new concept, even merely a try on, we get new results. It’s like changing one ingredient in a recipe; it gives you a different outcome. The alchemy, the dance, the equation, is changed and so are we.
So my plan is to build a summer of enchantment, to string together wonderful experiences- not build a bucket list or a how-to, but just dive deeper. In my meetings, in my laughter with friends, in my quiet time, I want to remember this way of being. Sometimes to try on something new, I need a visual reminder; frequently, I wear a ring or bracelet so when I look at my hands I remember. I might take a sharpie and create a temporary tattoo on my wrist, what the hell. I want a prompt, Post-it note, a path for my neurons to trigger and remember to embrace enchantment in that moment, in the mundane, in the frustrating, in the quiet space of my breath before I take that sip. Cheers!