Lessons from the tortoise and clumps of wax.


I was just remarking how slowly February has passed.  Each day has felt like a full 24 hours. When I look at my calendar I think, oh cool there is still a week left of this month. I promise, I am not trying to make you envious. I have lived this month in stark contrast to the years past. Years that went whizzing by, leaving me dizzy and slightly spun. So what’s the big deal? I am not working, of course time has slowed down. I have more time to spare.  In the past, this extra time would caused that itchy, anxious feeling. I would have not  known what to do. Feeling bored, I would have squandered the time (and money) away sitting on a bar stool.  In the past, I would run away from the slow tide of time, rushing to find more to do.

Today, in the present moment, especially this month I relish each day, I am lathering in its minutes and doused in its seconds.  Someone else may have pulled the brakes, but I am happy to get off the speeding rocket and stretch my legs. Take a little stroll, see the sights and take in the air.

At first, I thought I was enjoying the slower pace because it was helping me feel less anxious and over-wrought. This may be true. But it occurred to me that there is something more to this feeling. The whizzing time was making me feel so sad. I felt like I was mourning each day, because each day did not felt lived in, each day felt compressed.  It made me sad to see my daughter grow before my eyes.  I began to feel the rest of my life would be nothing more than a big boulder rolling down a hill picking up speed as it reached the bottom.  It occurred to me it was not my age that made me uncomfortable,  it was the rushing speed of each day. And I now notice this for the first time in my life. I wasn’t sad about turning 40, it is just an age, I was sad to miss life. It felt impending doom. Life was going to whiz by me and it wasn’t going to slow down.

I’ve been learning to listen to the subtle signs, the quiet moments and slower days, as the great poet Ranier Maria Rilke says:

“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.”

I am just beginning to realize that I need and want to slow down. To live a life that is not full of multi-tasking, errands, obligations, time sucking moments and manic ideas that simply pass the days. I want to relax into each day, keep to MY routine, have time for myself so I can be open to the people I love. Realize that solitude is not lonely, being alone will bring me more comfort from those that love me.  For the first time, I see the trickery of a fast-paced life. I am not fulfilled by packing more into my life, by running around doing everything at once.  Waiting till the last minute for the surge of adrenaline may not produce the best results.  Burning the candle at both ends has just left me with a stump of wax. I don’t want a stump of wax. I would like to see some light.  Some warm flickering candlelight, slowly burning and illuminating the way.

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final

-Ranier Maria Rilke

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: