Reflections on the Value of Calming Down

Thoughts from the Hammock in the Shade

Photo of hammock in the shade

In a world where “busy equals good / not busy equals bad” this is an invitation to pause and reflect on whether busy-ness and speed are all they are cracked up to be.

When caught up in the day to day pressures of our self inflicted busy-ness, we might pause for a moment to listen to Jack Kerouac who declares, “Who wants a living – I want a life.” Are you feeling alive today?

Aveni observes that, “driven to conform to monotonous strains of linear, techno-time, we do great harm to both our health and our psyche.” Have you noticed that you’re not always hungry when the clock says it’s lunchtime?

Instead of fruitlessly trying to control every element of our time and lives and frustrating ourselves in the process, Wessman suggests we adopt an attitude of “relaxed mastery and adaptive flexibility”. Could it really be that an interruption is a blessing in disguise?

“We have surrounded ourselves with time-saving technological gadgetry, only to be overwhelmed by plans that cannot be carried out, appointments that cannot be honored, schedules that cannot be fulfilled, and deadlines that cannot be met.” So says Jeremy Rifkin who goes on to suggest that busy-ness is experienced as meaningless, and that the real core of our problem with time is the disappearance of meaningful time. “Time famine” is really a metaphysical starvation – a disconnect from a larger purpose and the soul. Do you know why you are running in circles today?

Updegraff suggests that a successful pattern of living includes a balance of projects and episodes. A project is something definite to be accomplished, and an episode is something to be enjoyed. Are there any episodes on the horizon of your day?

A generation ago most people who finished a day’s work needed rest – and now they need exercise. Gives ‘get a move on’ a whole new meaning.

Sometimes the true value in our lives is right under our noses, not over the fence or across the road. As the curmudgeonly curator of the hole-in-the-wall Oddity Museum observes: “If you get up every morning and you like where you go and who you see there, maybe you’ve found your dream.”

George Moore would agree with the old curator: “A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” What invisible value might be sitting in your very own backyard as you gaze longingly to the distance?

A magazine article notes that, “In the olden days, if a person missed the stage coach, he was content to wait a day or two for the next one. Nowadays we feel frustrated if we miss one section of a revolving door.” We’ve moved beyond that now. Electric eyes made the revolving door passe. Modern buildings are watching for our arrival and greet us with open arms. Busy people don’t have time for doors, you know!

According to Epictetus, “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” Figuring out our purpose is the toughest place to begin, but the most fruitful in the end. Do you know what you’re about?

Will Rogers suggests, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we’ve rushed through life trying to save.” What are you savoring today?

The last word goes to Lily Tomlin who says, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”

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