Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just Kickin' Down the Cobblestones

So, I’ve been slowing down.

I’ve mentioned here before how strange it is that my life seemed to be emptying out this fall. My ESL gig ended when my student moved away. My cub scout calling went away. I’ve passed off some of my AML responsibilities. I didn’t get into grad school. My schedule seemed to be clearing out, and I assumed it was because Something was Coming.

Turns out, the thing that was coming was Nothing. And the sort of creepy thing is that it has been OK.

I have had opportunities to put things back into my schedule, but I have had that sinking, dead feeling whenever I considered them. I’m not always great at being guided by the Spirit in my life, but one thing I learned rather early on (when I was deciding where to go to college, in fact) is that when something is right, I feel interest in it, can’t stop thinking about it, start getting itchy to make it happen. And when it’s wrong, it keeps slipping my mind, and, when reminded, I drag my feet, dreading it.

And I haven’t felt like doing a darn thing lately. I have been a blob at home, managing my duties but nothing else.

But a strange thing is happening. When I don’t have any reason to hurry through my duties, I find myself settling into them, actually (brace yourself) ENJOYING them, feeling like I’m living life right there and then, instead of hurrying to get to the next thing. I used to feel like I needed my writing (for example) in order to reward myself for getting through the other, boring things I needed to do. And now, without the reward, I’m starting to enjoy the doing of the tasks. (Well, except for planning and cooking meals. There’s no enjoying that for me.) I feel like, maybe, this slow time is teaching me how to live.

I recently got a very beautiful blessing from my next-door neighbor, who is in the stake presidency. He even mentioned this—that this is a time for thinning out my schedule. That I’ll be able to do the things I must, but many of the extras will go for a while. This is comforting to me because I have moments of guilt, especially when I’m around my very accomplished writer friends who run marathons, etc. “Is it really OK that I’m not doing a thing in my life?” I wonder. “Am I just being lazy?” I used to care so much about AML, Segullah, ESL, WIFYR, etc. and now I feel so apathetic about them.

But, rather than paralyzing myself with guilt about this, what if I see it as a gift? What if I decide that this apathy is God’s way of helping me to slow down? Because I know that if He really wanted me to be involved, he’d send me that energy and interest, right?

Which is why it’s so confusing that I felt so sure that it was right to apply for grad school last year. I’m finally to the point where I am actually glad that I didn’t get in (because that two-week flu last month would have forced me to drop out. Seriously.) but why did it feel so right to apply?

One possible answer came to me the other day: if God knew it wasn’t right for me to be in school this year, but wanted to send me the message that I’m capable of doing it, that I’m not a complete loser as a writer, having me be #1 on the waiting list was a pretty good way. I got to feel like I was at least good enough to BE there, without having to drop out later. Hmm, it’s a thought.


Angie said...

I feel the same way about household and parenting stuff. When I allow myself the time to be present and not rush, stuff I thought I didn't like becomes fulfilling. That said, I am totally overloaded at the moment. Being in the moment with anything sounds really good.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Odd to read your and Hallstrom's similar-themed posts on the same day, and I could write my own along the same lines, at least in terms of having passed on over $20K in (pretty boring) freelance writing jobs in the past couple of weeks. What a relief! I was in a really bad mood for a few weeks until I did that. I've also slowed down a lot on Zarahemla and am doing more TV watching and even some typing on my own novel.

Michelle said...

I too, am accomplishing very little. And I do feel embarrassed around my ambitious friends. But we're living! And still doing good.

Cheri said...

This is exactly what I want to do, but I'm having trouble doing it! So many things keep demanding my time. But on days when I do get it right, I feel such peace and satisfaction at accomplishing the simple, homely tasks this world tries to convince us are "not enough."

Jennifer B. said...

Interesting thoughts. I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's talk for just these reasons. Sometimes we need to "slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials."

Who would've thought we could actually enjoy those tasks we're in such a hurry to get out of the way.

So just curious. What are you enjoying more now than you used to? Laundry? Cleaning? Please share. Perhaps it will rub off on me.

Darlene Young said...

Yeah, Angie and Cheri, it doesn't work so well when you have too much to do. But then, maybe it can . . . I suppose you can try to relax into whatever you're stuck doing.

Jen, I've noticed it most with running errands (I hate hate hate shopping) lately, and that witching hour when the kids get home from school. I'm still struggling with bedtime, though, because I feel ready for bed about a half hour before my kids go down. That's really hard not to rush through/anticipate the end of.

Darlene Young said...

BTW, it's amazing how much easier it is when I feel well.

Jennifer B. said...

I'm so glad you're having some success! Bedtime is a rough one for me too. Sometimes I'm just so eager for quiet with no one demanding my attention, that it is very tempting to rush the whole process.

Now that Alison is a junior, every now and them I am reminded that my time with them at home is going to come to an end. Sometimes that realization helps me to enjoy moments at bedtime more.

Wishing you more success and lots of good days.

Jennifer B. said...

p.s. Do you think your perspective is helping you enjoy the witching hour more? Or is it also preparation or something physical that you do? I could sure use help there.

cindy baldwin said...

That is exactly how I felt about the college thing. Two years ago, I couldn't imagine not being in classes. I loved them, enthused about them, and imagined what else I'd take. Over the last several semesters, I've had that apathetic feeling that you describe - nothing has ignited that spark of excitement in me, and I've felt a huge push to slow down and simplify.

scott bronson said...

I've always tried to adopt the feeling that "housework" is an act of creation. By performing certain tasks (I cook regularly, wash dishes until my back can't stand it any more, vacuum, and--you know--other stuff) FOR the members of my family, it becomes a gift rather than a chore, and its completion is another stone on the castle wall, not just a tidy house. It's so much more satisfying when I know that all these things are actually building something.