This post was first published as part of Stuff and Guff’s musings…check it out here!
I’m one of those people who is borderline obsessive about being productive.
I do everything in my power to get all of the groceries from the car to the house in one trip, even if I’m cutting off the circulation in all of my fingers.
I power-walk through the office at work, always taking corners too fast, occasionally running into people, and twice spilling my coffee on people (sorry Dave and Janet).
I sit down at home to try to write or read a book, but I get so distracted by the load of laundry that needs to be done and the pillow that needs to be straightened and the dishwasher that needs to be emptied and my car that needs to be vacuumed… so the sitting usually only lasts a few minutes.
The next thing just always seems so urgent.
Maybe you’re like me or maybe you’re more adept at slowing yourself down… but I’ve realized lately that when my mind is consumed with being productive and my day is consumed with busyness… I miss out on some truly wonderful things.
When I really think about it, I realize that even though I feel like I am doing more, I’m actually missing out on so much.
Maybe I’m the only one with this problem [please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem]… but I’ve found that it is often easier to plunge myself into the next task instead of facing what is really going on in my heart and my soul. It seems easier to distract myself from my own mind by going going going…by pressing on and moving from one thing to the other when I really just need to
Why do I do this? Why do I feel the incessant need to be on the hamster wheel of efficiency and “getting stuff done”?
It’s Monday. The first day “back at it” after a busy weekend and there are several things I could lose myself in. My to-do list is full and the deadlines are creeping up.
In our success and image-driven culture, we feel the pull to keep doing, because what we do is what we will be known for, right? Working hard is what will make us happy and successful, right? That is what will finally give us the peace we have been craving, right?
But in reality, there will always be “one more thing” to get done. That feeling of peace and settledness that I hope will come after I finish a task is fleeting, and I will chase it again as soon as the next to-do comes up. Once I finish one thing there will be another, and another…
This rhythm of non-stop doing can crowd out so many beautiful things.
It’s nearly impossible to fit beauty and gratitude in a life of hurry.
So maybe, just maybe, true success and true joy is found in slowing down. In stepping off the hamster wheel and allowing my mind and my soul to rest and to just be. In taking in the small, beautiful, and even mundane moments.
I want to strive after this.
I want to slow down. To notice.
To spend less time staring at a screen and more time noticing the soft colors in the sky or the pages of a book.
To spend less time listening to music or the radio and more time listening to the thoughts in my head or the pounding of my feet on pavement.
Silence and stillness can be incredibly uncomfortable. But it is in the stillness that inspiration and understanding and beauty are found. When we slow down, everything stops spinning quite so fast and we are able to look at ourselves head on and see what’s really going on in our soul. It’s scary, yes. But there is so much richness and goodness found there. When we slow down we can finally see ourselves. We can see the places in our heart and soul that need a little grace. A little mercy.
So here’s to finding the bravery to stop hustling, to stop filling time, and to just slow down, and to be still. Here’s to turning off the need for efficiency. To giving yourself the grace to temporarily tune out the tasks and the deadlines.
To pursue stillness and quiet.
To allow yourself to be bored [an unheard-of concept!].
To let your mind rest and just be.
To see where your thoughts go when you turn off the to-do list.
And when you finally slow down, when you clear your mind, when you make space… you might just be surprised to see the beauty and grace and mercies that have been around you all along.
The beauty of the un-photographed sunset.
The mercy of an undistracted conversation.
The wonder of the flitting in-between moments that you can’t capture with a video or a picture, but that you can hold tightly in your mind and your heart.
Here’s to remembering the exquisite beauty in the ordinary. The wonder of what is happening right here in front of you. In your ordinary life. Here’s to living fully and finding joy in the beautiful things all around you. And not even just finding joy, but seeking it out, making space for it, noticing it.
Here’s to slowing down. Here’s to noticing the mercies all around us.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
– Psalm 46:10