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Life in Fast Forward

It never ceases to amaze me how one thing leads to another.

This morning was like that for me. I couldn’t sleep so instead of disturbing my husband I got up and headed to my computer.

As I walked into the study I wondered why I had left the warmth of my bed. It was cold. The sun hadn’t even risen. I looked out the window at the view. The houses on the hills were all still asleep. It was dark but I had a feeling it wasn’t going to stay that way for long. I could sense that something was stirring; the new day was slowly unfolding. Subtle changes alerted my being. I didn’t know exactly what time it was but I knew it was very early morning. I was transfixed for a moment as I wondered what was happening in all the houses I could see before me. Was anyone else awake?

I looked at my desk. There were two laptops sitting there, side by side; my work laptop and my personal one.

“Should I turn both of them on?” I wondered. “I could check my emails and start working on the document I need finished by Monday.”

I often sit there and work on both computers. Multi-tasking at its best. Efficient some would say. In reality it is crazy. Why do I do this?

“Don’t turn anything on Marica. Go back to bed,” said that voice from deep within.

I didn’t listen to it. Instead I stayed put. My mind was racing and I couldn’t sleep so I didn’t see any point in going back to bed.

I turned on one laptop; my personal one.

What was I going to do next? Check my emails? Catch up on all the emails I haven’t yet responded to? Write to friends that I haven’t written to in ages? Check my favourite blogs and see what everyone is up to? Read the news? Search for inspiration? Work on my various web spaces?

No. Instead, I sat there staring at the screen feeling bad about not having updated my blog with my Project 365 posts. With all the best intentions in the world I have let this slip to bottom of my priority list. I have allowed everything else to take over. I don’t understand why this is the case because this project is really important to me. Writing my blog posts is really important to me. Taking my daily photos is really important to me. I started to wonder what was going on. Why was I not dedicating time in my day to do this when it mattered so much to me?

Time ticked by as I pondered my next move.

Sunrise

The colours started to change in the world beyond my window.

I noticed an explosion of brilliant red in the distance. It was so beautiful. The sun was rising. I wanted to capture what I was seeing; what I was feeling; yet I was unsure how best to do this.

The light started to infiltrate my study.

“Why am I wasting this time?” I asked myself.

I sat there feeling pressured and somewhat lost.

The days seem to be passing in a blur of work, work, and more work. I get up, I go to work, I come home and I continue to work. After what is all too often a restless and interrupted sleep I get up and continue the cycle. The weekends come and in a flash they’re gone. I look back and I wonder where the time went and what I had achieved. I feel guilty if I don’t do any of the work that I brought home with me. I feel as though I live my life according to my “paid work” deadlines. There is no balance. Everything seems urgent but is “everything” important?

My mind is constantly racing with all the things I want to do; all the things I need to do; and all the things that I have to put off because I have no idea when I will be able to get to them. I am surrounded by “To Do” lists at work and at home.

Tomorrow comes too fast. How is it that 24 hours is faster now than it once used to be? I cannot believe that June – the sixth month out of twelve that make up a year in our life – is almost here.

I have conversations with my family but I’m not present. I don’t spend time with extended family and friends. I’ve lost touch with my creative self. I can’t remember the last time I sat and read a fiction book for pleasure. I can’t sit for a minute and just be. I feel guilty. It is as though I am wasting time.

Where am I? What is happening? Why can’t I press a ‘slow’ button to slow everything down instead of living as though I am stuck in ‘fast forward’ mode? I want time to catch my breath, to re-energise and rejuvenate myself.

slow_sign

“There is always the ‘stop’ button Marica,” says that omnipresent voice that I keep ignoring.

“That’s too final,” I retaliate. “If I stop I won’t be able to get going again.”

“What about the ‘pause’ button then?”

Pausing. Taking time out to just be in whatever way is appropriate. A moment to pray. A moment to think of nothing. A moment to open my eyes and see. A moment of feeling and connecting with myself. A precious moment in time.

As I sat in my study being transported all over the globe (thanks to our Internet connection) I stumbled across a blog posting which grabbed my attention (thanks Wesley).

As I watched and listened to Carl Honore talk about the slow movement something clicked for me. He made so much sense and I wanted to know more.

In 1982 Larry Dossey, an American physician, coined the term “time sickness” to describe the obsessive belief that “time is getting away, that there isn’t enough of it, and that you must pedal faster to keep up.” These days the whole world is time sick. We all belong to the same cult of speed (p.3).

What is the very first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? … the first thing everyone does, is check the time. Right from that first waking moment the clock calls the shots. And so it goes on through the day, as we scurry from one appointment, one deadline, to the next. Every moment is woven into a schedule, and wherever we look … the clock is ticking, tracking our progress, urging us not to fall behind.

In our fast moving modern world, it always seems that the time-train is pulling out of the station just as we reach the platform. No matter how fast we go, no matter how cleverly we schedule, there are never enough hours in the day (p.17).

Source
Honore, C. (2004). In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed. London: Orion Books.

Does any of this resonate with you?

I got up from my desk and went to my book shelf. I grabbed the book I was looking for and started flicking through its pages once more.

Stopping is doing nothing as much as possible, for a definite period of time (one second to one month) for the purpose of becoming more fully awake and remembering who you are.

… Doing nothing should not be confused with a total lack of activity. Doing nothing is indeed doing something very important. It’s allowing life to happen – your life. Doing nothing is something quite profound.

The ultimate purpose of Stopping is to ensure that when we go, we go in the direction that we want and that we are not just reacting to the pace of our lives, but choosing, moment by moment, what’s best. The ultimate reason for Stopping is going (p.14).

Source
Kundtz, D. (1998). Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going. Berkeley, California: Conari Press.

“Okay, I’m getting the message. How am I going to act on this though?” I sat there wondering.

I reflected back on the latter part of my adult life. I asked myself why I have had such a struggle to slow down and to take time out for me; to just be, to be aware of my breath going in and out, to treasure the moment, and to not worry about the time. I realised that the reasons were essentially irrelevant and what was far more important was what happened next. Instead I decided to focus on what I have learnt from this mornings unplanned meanderings …

  • remoteWe can all take charge of the remote control and not let one speed rule the way we live our lives. This may not always be easy because of the influence of other factors but ultimately we do have a choice as to how we spend our time and the quality of that time. Make it count no matter which speed you are operating in. By doing this you are taking back control of your time.
  • Press ‘Pause’ everyday. If you can press it more than once all the better. The length of the pause is not as important as what happens when we pause. Make it meaningful and let it nourish and nurture your whole being. This is your time not anybody elses. Choose not to compromise on this.
  • Press ‘Stop’ when you need to take serious time out from your day. Don’t be afraid to do this. Stopping helps bring clarity and focus. It helps to re-energise your being.
  • Slow is okay. Speed is okay. Balance is the imperative.
  • Work out your priorities and not everyone else’s. Be clear about what matters to you; identify what is negotiable and what isn’t. By doing this it is easier to incorporate the ‘important’ into our daily lives.
  • Always be true to yourself. Make the decision that you have a choice as to the way you live your life even when it may seem like you don’t. Part of the biggest challenge is to change our thinking and then match this up with action.

I know this will be a challenge for me to put into practice because old habits die hard. I am definitely a slave to time and I am sick of chasing it. To bring about meaningful change sounds so straightforward yet the reality is always somehow much harder. However, I am determined to give it a go. I have made a decision that taking any steps towards what I want is better than taking none at all. As my husband Lynsey would say: “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen!”

One further thought – I have decided to stop beating myself up about being behind in my Project 365 postings. Instead I’ll just keep chipping away at them and hopefully one day I’ll catch up. After all there is no rush, or is there?

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