Last week, I named it . . . this three weeks before the year’s end when I have deliberately slowed the pace of my work, scheduled fewer events, and begun to let the frantic pace of my life ebb. I know I need this. This Great Slowing.
I need it for my writing, for my work. I need it for my marriage and for the farm. I need it for me.
But I don’t like it.
And I love it.
Yesterday, for the first time in months, I was at the grocery store during the day. Normally, Philip and I go in the evening, after dinner, because that’s when we have time. That’s not a bad thing, but usually, we are tired after long days at work . . . and we fight grumpiness as we decide what cereal to buy.
But yesterday, I wandered the aisles unhurried. I had time and energy to look at my lists and make good choices about food. It was pleasant . . . except for this sadness I could feel creeping up in me. . . or maybe sadness isn’t the right word. Maybe grief. Maybe hollowness. Maybe weariness.
I stood there near the aisle of seltzer water and wanted to cry. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, except to say that I knew this feeling had been there a long time and that I had been tamping it down with activity for months.
I still can’t articulate what I’m feeling yet – this post is part of the process of coming to understanding. I have been carrying some heavy sadnesses for a while now, and I think it’s time I sat with them. Faced them. Mourned them. So I will, in these three weeks. . .
Too, my “well is pretty dry.” I feel parched, drawn out, thin. So I must refill . . .
This morning, I am reading this amazing interview with Charles D’Ambrosio as he talks about his new essay collection Loitering, and I know I must read this book because I need to remember that “done” and “answered” are not all there is.
So much now, being a writer seems to be about “conversions” and advice and the long-legged journey to success. But all of those things are about endings – publication too in that – and I understand writing to be about questions and journeys, myths and legends that are never pinned down to display boards.
I need to return to Rilke’s words about “living the questions.”
Here, in the third day of The Great Slowing, I am weak and a little weepy. And yet, I am hopeful that this journey of 21 days will bring me just exactly what I need, which is probably nothing but myself and the openness, again, to the journey.
The listing for D’Ambrosio’s book says “deckle edge,” and maybe that’s the image I will hold in tender fingers for the next three weeks – the tips of pages left ragged by intention, the recognition that the imperfect is the most stunning, heart-changing way of life.
Here’s to deep breathes, slow days, and rough edges, my friends.
How are you doing these days? How are your words? How – most importantly – is your heart? Do you need more slow or more filling?