First a whisper, a comment from someone, an article that catches your eye. Next a pebble, pay attention. Along comes a stone, it smarts. A brick or two, that shakes you a little. Make a vow, ignore it, justify. When the whole damn wall comes crashing down on you, attention is forced.
I rush. I rush from thing to thing, assignment to assignment, appointment to appointment, dawn to dusk. I harbor unrealistic expectations about what I can and should get done in a 24-hour period. My to-do list on Monday generally takes a week to accomplish. My life is, I would say, typical of the lifestyle of American women. Dangerous.
First there were a few comments from others telling me to slow down, enjoy the journey, breathe. There were hormone tests proving I had adrenal exhaustion caused by stress, plus the stress acne, stress eating, stress drinking. An article by Martha Beck 5 Ways to Bring Yourself Back from Burnout, then her entire book about the necessity of rest to bring about creativity and productivity, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. The work resonated with me to such a degree that I texted my friend “you have to read this.” And I tried. Really. To slow down and rest. I would rest, then I would compensate for all the resting and meditating by rushing to do everything quicker.
Go Slow, the still small voice inside my head whispered.
Then I got a speeding ticket. I was rushing home . . . for no other reason than I think 30 mph is absurdly slow. Then came another ticket, for no other reason than faster is better, really. I rushed.
I multitasked. I rushed from a relaxing massage therapy session and fell down the stairs while reading a text and attempting to make a phone call and get to my next appointment (to deal with the stress acne) simultaneously. I sprained or maybe even broke my ankle.
On a Monday in May I had that adrenaline “rush” I get when I’m kicking ass and getting everything done. I was feeling so productive. For no real reason, I went rushing to the park on a child’s pink razor scooter and broke my ding-dang clavicle. Luckily I didn’t hit my head, because if I had they would not have shot me up with gallons of morphine and heavy painkillers, and it hurt so freaking bad. I was having a difficult time determining if birth or breaking my shoulder was more painful. Scratching my arm brought me to my knees crying for weeks.
Still. I had a lunch meeting planned the next day and I went. I had deadlines and I need to pay my bills. I thought I would take a nap on Tuesday and get right back at it. I couldn’t. I winced through that whole lunch meeting. I couldn’t create a coherent thought to write worth a damn.
Even still, I did not have time to stop at a stop sign on my way home from the grocery store. I had not had time to go searching for my insurance card either, (I knew it was missing because of my ticket weeks before when the cop gave me a warning). This cop threatened to handcuff me and haul me off to jail for not having insurance. He threatened to make me and my children walk home with our groceries. I thought he was an overreacting power-tripping douche bag. Mainly, because he was.
The fact remained that I was still rushing through my life, aiming for the finish line and it had become both dangerous and expensive. Ignore the voice and pay the consequences. Worse I wasn’t even enjoying my life, because I was too busy rushing through it.
I finally accepted the finite nature of my time and energy. I got slow. I made being deliberate a meditation. I gave up my agenda and tossed my to-do list in the garbage. I sat. I napped. I meditated. I watched the OWN network and Soap.net. I went to church. I did no yard work and little housework. When I worked, I worked very slowly. I stayed home. I read books, lingered in the bathtub. Sat by the pool. I took a vacation.
There’s a quality to what I’m doing now that is markedly different. When I’m not rushing I’m enjoying what I’m doing whether that’s cleaning out the tub, mowing the lawn, snuggling with my kids, making dinner or working through my to-do list. I’m making time to drive slower, allowing more time to write with consciousness.
I’m going to trust Martha Beck and rest my way to success. Hopefully I’m also becoming a better listener to that still small voice inside directing me in the ways I should go.
Busy-ness is a disease of which I am hopefully cured.