Over and over, I seem to need to learn the same lessons – slow down, be here now, enjoy the moment, don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Over and over again, I forget, and over and over, I must start over. And thank goodness that God, in God’s wisdom, gave us days to remind us of this very thing. Each morning, we start the day fresh if we choose to – a new dawn to show us the way.
This week, two things in particular have reminded me of the need to slow down. The first was a radio interview that Diane Rehm conducted with author John Freeman about his new book The Tyranny of Email. Freeman’s book, as far as I understand it from the interview, contains a manifesto for slow communication. His basic premise is that some things need to be communicated slowly, mulled over, considered; some times email and texts are not the appropriate form for all communication. He isn’t claiming we should get rid of email or texting, but he is arguing that we need to be more careful about our usage.
Now, this insight isn’t that profound; goodness knows, I’ve had my share of snafus with email – miscommunications, lost messages, etc. But sometime about thinking about the way we are bombarded and bombard others with email really struck me. I do feel really overloaded with communication that isn’t necessary, and I feel a lot like the communicating I do is superficial and weak. So I’m starting over in this way – I am checking email a lot less. I am calling people when I can’t see them if at all possible. I am simply trying to be more deliberate about my communication. Finally, I am working to stop and think and consider before I respond. Sometimes, I need to ponder before I speak – or write – so I am going to do just that.
The second major influence on my thoughts this week came from Yoga Journal. Their newsletter this week included a link to an article entitled “Being vs. Doing” by Stephen Bodian. The basic premise of the article is one of the fundamental teaching of yoga – be in this moment. He makes these points (with great discussion, so read the full article if you can.):
Our self-worth is linked to our accomplishments
We’re driven by a relentless inner critic.
We’re afraid of losing control.
We make a strong demarcation between sacred time and secular time.
We lack the commitment or motivation to stay present.
We don’t recognize being in the midst of doing.
We’re addicted to speed, achievement, consumption, the adrenaline rush of stress, and, most insidiously of all, to our minds.
Boy oh boy, did I see myself in this list? These are true for me in the deepest level – especially the idea that we can’t “be” even while we “do.” I often feel like I don’t get to be present when I have to be working or doing something else. Somehow, I seem to think that the time when I am working disappears from my life. That’s not true – work is part of my life – but I must see it as that and not resent it.
So I’m making a couple of changes. I am going to remind myself to stay here, in this moment, as much as possible. I am going to pare down my activities – teach one less class, work a few less hours, communicate less obsessively through all the various forms. And most of all, I am going to learn that each moment is sacred, a time to be and become more of who God created me to be.
And tomorrow, when I have screwed this up today, I will start over, and it will be good.