Time moves plenty fast without our assistance.
I turn around and my son is two inches taller, the weeds I just picked have resurrected and are going to seed, and the pie I pulled out of the oven is polished off, only crumbs remaining.
I walked into a pharmacy on Halloween and found myself eyeball-to-eyeball with a life-size Santa. I’m sorry, has Thanksgiving passed? Have we decided that Fall ends in October? Before the leaves have completed their magnificent show? Before the silly roses even quit blooming?
I can’t blame the shops, though. They wouldn’t do it if this wasn’t what consumers responded to. So my question is, why are we in such a hurry for the next thing? In my previous post, The Looser Weave, I spoke of my own reticence to wrap up my childbearing in a tidy yesterday box, and apply my expectation towards the next thing. I shared, “What am I saying…only this; I’m not eager to hurry away, to go on to the next thing. I am in a garden and I haven’t exhausted my wonder at all the flowers.”
I am glad to both enjoy my daughter’s entry into her teens and my baby learning his first words, simultaneously. I don’t mind our vehicles hosting both strollers and soccer balls. There is something quite magical in seeing the delight and wonder in my oldest child’s eyes when she holds her littlest brothers, and I can point out the things they do that she also did as a babe. It opens to her the wonder of her own yesterday. She reads to them and I hear my own voice in hers, the way I read to her.
What is to be gained from hurry? It seems the logic is that I’ll power through tons of work/things/activities so that I’ll have time…for….more…what, more work/things/activities? Why not enjoy fully the time we have now? Can we not resist the pull of cramming our days breathlessly full and aiming them at a mythically less-busy future?
“…if the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll keep you busy.”
“Busyness is not of the devil; busyness is the devil.”
“Busyness acts to repress our inner fears and perpetual anxieties, as we scramble to achieve an enviable image to display to others. We become ‘outward’ people, obsessed with how we appear, rather than ‘inward’ people, reflecting on the meaning of our lives.
Busyness also seems to be a determination not to ‘miss out on life.’ Behind much of the rat-race of modern life is the unexamined assumption that what I do determines who I am. In this way, we define ourselves by what we do, rather than by any quality of what we are inside. It is typical in a party for one stranger to approach another with the question, ‘What do you do?’ Perhaps we wouldn’t have a clue how to reply to the deeper question, ‘Who are you?’
– James Houston
If my life is too busy to…
- cook with my children
- take Sunday as a true Sabbath, a day of delightful rest
- create for the sheer pleasure of creating
- snuggle on the couch with my baby
- cook nourishing food for my family
- examine the eyelashes on my sleeping toddler, memorizing the way they lay on his cheek
- respond to sudden needs of family and friends
- enjoy, while still hot, my morning cup of coffee
- have talks and dates with my children, one on one
- learn something new, like a language or a craft
- give of my time to others
- find a stream and sit beside it in thought
- care for the animals and plants under my stewardship
- talk with my husband in long meandering conversations
- respond to a gorgeous sunset with a walk to enjoy it
….then I am too busy, and something has to be reevaluated. Emergencies excepted, of course, but I find many are living in emergency mode…all the time. That is exhausting. What is the cost of this? What is the cost of a rest-less life?
I heard recently the story of a man who had filled his life with hurry and noise, constant distraction. He was also deeply unhappy. As an experiment, while driving, he shut off the phone and the radio and drove in silence. It was uncomfortable, this silence. Tears began to well in his eyes as raw emotion, that had been tamped-down by distraction, reverberated through him. He pulled over his car and wept. Hard. When the weeping subsided he felt lighter and better, more human. I can’t help but hope for the same sort of breakthrough for our harried culture.
Then, maybe, just maybe, we can celebrate the seasons in the actual seasons, and Santa can come flooding into our stores in December, when we are ready for him, when we have let time flow at its own pace; when we live less in tomorrow than in today.