Yesterday, I sat down to prep my two summer classes (which start today – look at me working so far ahead :)). I got out my new laptop, placed myself in the basement, which is now doubling as my teaching office, and started to work. Things took longer than I expected, but I didn’t find myself nearly as a frustrated as I normally do when writing syllabi. I expect that the reason is because I was able to take my time and think through things. I felt good about what I did yesterday.
I wonder what would happen if we all took the time to think through things regularly. I think of simple things likes throwing things away – could we wash them? Repair them? Give them away? Recycle them? Sometimes I think we are moving so fast that the only thing we can think to do is throw something in the trash. We just want to be done with it.
Or something more complex – like buying a car. Do we always take the time to think about fuel efficiency or the longevity of the vehicle while we also weigh the price and our needs? Or do we pick what we want and see without considering other factors?
Or I wonder about our relationships. I know that unless I make a very conscious effort it can be very difficult for me to be with the person next to me instead of thinking of being with someone else the day before or the next day. I might text someone far away or simply daydream an experience away, all in a hurry to get to the next thing.
Here, again, I wonder how we can slow ourselves down. How can we learn to simply sit in a moment and do what needs to be done there? Maybe animals are our models here. They do what they want or need at the time it strikes them. I watch my cats collapse onto the floor when they want to sleep – no planning, no fluffing of the carpet, just dropping to the floor and dozing off. Or I think of the dolphins I was able to see this past weekend in Cape May. They swim and play and eat and mate when they want to. They don’t get ahead of themselves into the next thing, so when the boat pulls away and those wakes come up, they dash into them with abandon, leaping and swimming with what must be joy.
More and more I am convinced that I need to slow down, do what needs to be done, and learn to take joy where it comes. The writer of Ecclesiastes and The Byrds had it right – “A time for every purpose under heaven.” Now is not always that time.