When’s the last time you hit the pause button? The last time you left an hour, or afternoon, or entire day free of plans? When is the last time you slowed down long enough to let life seep in?
I find it hard to pause. My energy level is at about 110% most times – there’s so much to do, see, taste, smell, and experience that sometimes I’m afraid if I slow down I’ll miss out on life. Until I do actually slow down and realize that THAT is where life is.
When I was a kid my parents would take one day (or two?) in the school year and keep my brother, sister and I home with them. They’d call it a ‘mental health day’ and we’d just hang out as a family. Nothing special happened but in making time to do nothing we would get so much in return; time to make pancakes for breakfast, time to ask questions and really hear the answers, time to check in and re-energize, even if it was just siting on the couch watching reruns of The Cosby Show together. Those days were few and far between but they make some of my most precious memories even though nothing really happened.
As an adult I look back on those days with such admiration and appreciation. I don’t know where my parents got the insight to slow down life (or maybe they were just really fucking tired) but in doing just that they taught me the importance of living and not just doing. I was lucky to learn at a very young age that taking a break from routine doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you live. It allows you time to let experience and emotion seep into your bones so that you can move forward re-energized and re-focused.
We all have to-do lists. We all have busy lives and we all think we need extra hours in the day. But I say slow it all down. Even that to-do list. Don’t just walk the dog to get it over with, notice the smell of the tulips and lilacs as you pass by. Hear the kids laughing on your street as you’re weeding the lawn. Smell the cut grass and sit down on it with a cold glass of beer and a big dumb smile across your face. Those moments are life.
Take an hour, an afternoon or a full day. Don’t plan just be. See what can happen when you slow down long enough to let life in.