It was hot. Steamy summer stinking hot. No breeze. And, I, had to walk 4km (2.5 miles) totting two kids to get to playgroup because I was the one with the key and I had to open the building up.
If I had gone in my usual fashion, which is to rush out the door at the last possible minute and walk as fast as I can, I would have arrived at playgroup in an frantic puddle of sweat. So, on this particular day, I left five minutes early and called a friend of mine who could intercept me on the way to grab the key off me if I didn’t make it in time.
On this day, I refused to be in a hurry.
As we slowly walked along, we noticed the big construction site with the gigantic machinery. We paused in the shade of a frangipani tree so my four year old could collect some flowers that had dropped the ground. My two year old needed to pee, so we found a bush to ‘water’ along the way, instead of me telling her to just hold on to it. We chatted about how nice and green the grass had become after the recent rain.
And, do you know, that by the time I arrived at playgroup, we were actually there on time and I didn’t feel frazzled, like I usually do! Despite having stopped to literally pick the flowers, we weren’t even late.
It was then that I realized how ‘busy‘ I had made our lives and that it needed to stop. In the beginning of being a mother, when it was just my newborn daughter and I, we were home alone most days, with no friends around. We were relatively new to Australia and my husband was usually the one who took our single car to work. After a few months, I started to severely crave social interaction and made it happen more often. Even when I went back to work part time, I still felt like things were too quiet and formed a sort of resentment towards having moments that seemed too still.
I went out and made friends, I started going to playgroups. I had another baby. I moved into a new neighborhood where everything is in walking distance and there are lots of people around. In fact, these days, I can’t even walk down the street without bumping into somebody that I know. I made sure that I got out of the house for several hours every morning and then again every afternoon. We booked into swimming, kids yoga, dance etc. Slowly, over time, things went from being overly dull to hectic and busy. I stopped working and took my older daughter out of daycare and things got EVEN MORE busy, simply because I refused to sit around the house and do ‘nothing‘.
But, being too busy catches up with you. The house gets really messy when you’re running around like a lunatic. The people in your house get stressed when you rush and there never seems to be enough patience in your cup. You forget things, you get more accident prone, you hurt yourself and the days go by in a blur. At the end of a busy day, I would sometimes look at my kids and realize that I hadn’t really ‘looked’ at them all day, even though I had been there the whole time.
Accidentally, I even conditioned my nearly 5 year old to be ‘busy‘ and we’ve spent the past few weeks working on slowing down together. It’s been quite a process for her as well. She’s so used to being rushed around, that she’s had a few melt downs when I said we would be having a quiet morning or quiet afternoon. I’m sure that’s just the stress of always thinking we have to be moving that is coming out. I don’t mind her crying or raging, I actually embrace her emotional releases as a powerful healing mechanism. We also don’t have TV or watch movies, so quiet time around the house, is actually real quiet time. I can see that gradually, she’s getting used to the idea of slowing down too and she is starting to like it.
There are certainly times when you have to be in a hurry. Like, if I’m gonna miss an international flight, you better bet I’ll be running through that airport. And, there are times when you have to get a move on it or be spontaneous. It’s not to say that life becomes dull and inert because you always have to do things deliberately slow and lazy. Life should still be dynamic and full of enthusiasm. That’s why my slowing down is an ‘art‘, it’s something to do with awareness. And, I can speed things up, without feverishness, when I need to.
One thing is for sure, rushing around doesn’t do anyone any good. Eventually, you’ll hurt yourself enough, or forget things too often or stress people out so much that the world will give you no other choice but to slow down and be peaceful. Hopefully all you need is to read a little article like this as a reminder to be less frantic and to leave more time for things. Although I really can’t stand the hot hot heat, it served as a gentle reminder for me to slooooow it down a little. And for that, I am grateful!