18 January 2012

Takin' it slow

I saw this comic in The Philadelphia Inquirer the other day, &, like many other things I read & interpret, it struck a chord:

I've started reading the comics, along with many other local newspaper articles, because I'm trying to slow down in my everyday routines, be more conscious of everything I do, & live my life exactly the way I think a life should be lived. I've been talking about "leading by example" for a long time now, but I'm working on bettering every day.

It's easy to assume that most people also live their lives exactly the way they think everyone else should live. Why would you live believing that other people's lives are better? However, I think there's a lot of that. Many people get stuck & don't realize that all it takes is your mind & a push.

So what's my push? I have many. The first, a la Grandpa Pickles, is to sloooooow down.

What do I mean by slow down? If you know anything about me, it's that I run ahead with ideas that I'm passionate about. Everything seems urgent. And a lot of times it is. But let's be honest, if you don't have time for yourself, what do you have?

So many people get caught up in the little things of every day that they become reactionary. It's possible to live fast & take in values that slow down your reactions. When you make conscious decisions about core things that make us human, things come into perspective much more readily.

Like what?

Wake up slowly. Roll over, hug the person in bed next to you for longer than necessary. Run your fingers through their hair. Remember what their skin feels like after being asleep for 8 hours. Talk about your dreams. Write them down. Make the bed. Clean up the room. Put on the coffee or tea. Read the paper. Talk about your plans for the day. Make breakfast. Which leads to the next...

Cook & eat slowly. Use ingredients that you know will help your body get through the day with the most balance & energy. Put the food on a plate in a way that's appealing to your eyes. Take every bite with intention. Think about what it took to get that food to you & how it's going to nourish you. Drink slowly. Coffee is a real drug, & so is tea (of the tea leaf or herbal variety). Everything does something different to your body. Learn what works, & in what quantity it works.

Take time to stretch in the morning, & at night. Your body will thank you, & you'll learn a lot more about how it works.

Make sure you have time to be outside in the daylight & after dark. Listen to the birds. Watch the squirrels. Play with neighborhood dogs. Listen to the wind in the trees. Admire the color of the sky. Pay attention to the number of stars above your head. Close your eyes & breathe.

If you have children, pay attention to their actions & words/mumbles. Squat over & over again so that you can see them eye to eye. Learn to see what they're showing you. Kids know things that we forgot, but we can still get there if we take the time to remember what it's like to be a child. The world's hustle & bustle pushes that away from us.

Similarly, if you have elderly people around, listen to them. Beneath their hardened exteriors, breaking-down bodies, & weakening memories, they have a lot to say that will make your aging easier. There's a reason why the very young & the very old are so revered in most traditional societies. The growing up in-between stages are full of millions of things that can break you away from what's real.

Be very conscious of every decision your making. This is hardest. Think about the need to drive versus walk or bike or take public transportation. Plan your days so that you're able to do a lot in one shot rather than come & go, repeating paths. Think about the long-term effects on your health & the planet's health when you reach for the keys or the soda or the pre-packaged microwaveable meal.

Think about how interactions & information cause you to feel. In actuality, you're the one causing yourself to feel any which way. No one makes you do or feel anything but yourself. It's possible not to get into situations that will be harmful for you, & it's very possible that most situations which could be harmful can be dealt with in completely beneficial ways. Even start new relationships.

Do this before, during, & after all of your other daily activities.

Slow down. I have to slow down. I have to remind myself every day, multiple times each day. And still, most of the time, I forget. We live in a fast-paced world. In Philadelphia, one of the most bustling of the Northeast's bustling cities, it feels like the world will end if you're not just as fast as everyone else. But therein lies the rub. The faster we are, the faster we're going to collapse. Individually, as families, as communities, as cities, as nations, as a planet.

The things I see going on around me as a young person seem urgent. If I don't do this today, someone else is going to do it & mess it up, or no one's going to do it & it's going to be even worse. When taken into perspective, people have been thinking this for a long time, probably in every generation, at least since the beginning of capitalist competition.

So sit back, relax, do what needs to be done to survive, reevaluate your every day reactions, & be conscious of when you're getting ahead of yourself.

At least that's what I'm up to.

No comments: