I admit I am an over achiever. Most people I know are. This is a fast paced world in many respects, but is that what we really want? Or need?
I knew how to go slow when I was a child. I think most children are much more in touch with the natural way of Being. I relished in hanging upside down from trees, in building stick Forts and stone chairs in the woods, and I especially relished floating on the water.
So what happened? My parents were taught by their parents who were taught by their parents, to never be idle. There was constant work to be done even during the summer months, even when on “vacation” in the Catskills mountains. My father believed in being up at 6 am and had the entire day filled with constant activities or work or educational learning. Now that can be a good thing, but there should be some sort of balance with time to rest, to leisurely explore. With him their never was.
Case in point, from a vivid memory I have, of swimming in the Scoharie Creek. I was always floating or slowly swimming underwater because I loved the feel of the water on my skin and the muffled sounds under the water. My father would become very irate with me for doing this. He would demand that I “swim” laps, and would not leave me be, until I had swum at least 20 laps most vigorously, in Free Style, then Breast Stroke, then Back Stroke, then Side Stroke, no dawdling or resting in between. Mind you, I was not on any swim team, and this was summer. I most vividly remember thinking “I just want to float!” And yes, I did choose to become a Lifeguard at 15 and then a Water Safety Instructor and Pool Director at 17, which absolutely gave me purpose and meaning in Life. But I stopped floating.
So that was just the “way” of things. Constant doing, doing, doing, and always striving for more, better, higher, next, next, next. It becomes ingrained in us.
Rest? Completely foreign concept. With the exceptions of when I was very sick, or after surgery or after an accident. I actually did have “Cronic fatigue Syndrome” in my late 20’s that flattened me and allowed for a Space of Spiritual Turning Inward. Thus began my Spiritual Seeking in a very deep way. Would I have done that if I had not been forced to slow down? Probably not.
Recent times have shown all of us around the globe, that when we have the time and space for Reflection and Beauty and Rest, we feel a deeper appreciation for Life. We begin to ask ourselves What can be done differently? Is this “thing” really necessary? How can we bring more Balance and Harmony into our Lives? Do I really need to rush here and there? Am I making room for connection with my Soul? What is essential and what is not?
I have recently started a new chapter in my Life, having just retired from public education. Someone suggested to me that I should not jump into anything new for a couple of years. That I should just have a couple of “lazy summers”. My initial response was of shock and horror at the thought, LOL. Do Nothing? For Two Years? Insanity. Madness. Then after a few minutes of realizing that I have not been very good at “rest” most of my life, I realized the wisdom in this. Still, after a lifetime of doing, doing, doing, I am not quite sure how to actually do nothing. I did of course slow down during our nation’s time of quarantine and that definitely felt very very good.
So here is what I realized. Maybe I don’t have to “do nothing” All of The Time, but leave room, space, opportunities for “doing nothing”, at least much more often than not. Whew, ok, that I can handle!
So I am beginning by reclaiming and honoring that child part of me who loved to float on the water, and just listen to the faint clink clink of rocks gently moving in the current, feeling the gentle caress of water against her cheeks, and making mud paint at the edge of the creek, by rubbing multi hued pebbles with water. I will Honor her, by learning to float again.