He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. – Nietzsche
How many times in your life have you had to tell yourself to slow down? You rush from appointment to appointment – task to task – efficiently checking off items on your To Do list – but are you happy? What do you do after you have finished those tasks? What was the reason for your burst of efficiency?
There are times when we have procrastinated so long our To Do list seems as long as our arm. People procrastinate because they are overwhelmed, swamped by the effort it takes to just get through the day. Think of that familiar phrase, we all know how it feels to just get through the day. Put enough of these days together and your life – your one and only life – can become drudgery – hard dull work. It’s time to slow down and live longer. Switch the tempo of life from presto (quick) to adagio (slow).
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg
Understand this – you are not a machine, not a mechanism to be re-engineered. All too often we get our sense of reality from the corporate media we consume. And the goal of any corporation is not for you to become satiated, satisfied by their product. No, the goal is profit, and how is that profit gained? Corporations profit by making you a fan/user/follower of their product in order to extract your time. By handing over control of your time to a corporation, you sacrifice precious nuggets of lifetime. It is this devaluing of your life time that creates ennui – weariness and dissatisfaction. When the work day is done, leave the work behind and return to your real life. Life is there in your home, however humble it may be.
The Simpsons TV show is the longest running animated show in history. Years ago, after my divorce, my three kids and I would watch the show on Thursday nights before they spent the weekend with their mom. Enjoying a laugh together was one way we softened the emotional blows. I gave every possible minute I could to being a good dad. Nothing and no one mattered more than my three angels. In one episode of the Simpsons, a character gets rich and buys his dream come true a solid gold house and a rocket car. “As long as I got my millions of dollars, gold house, and rocket car, I don’t need anything else.” This meme is an inside joke for my kids and I. Whenever we struggle with life, we sometimes muse how things will be so much better once we have our millions, gold mansion and rocket car. Because we know material possessions do not define who we are.
Slow down. Center yourself in the moments of your life. Experience mundane tasks such as washing yourself, brushing your teeth, as a novice in a Zen temple raking rocks into patterns. Savor those precious moments recaptured from the flow of time like a salmon snatched up by a bear. Relish the sensuous textures. Notice the fine details of your life. Still your mind. This is the much written about concept of oneness. To become more mindful, I return time and again to Taoist concepts. The Taoist write of the uncarved block of wood as being our natural state. “Embrace the simplicity of the unhewn log”. This does not mean do not accomplish anything, or quit your job. But release the artificial pressures and slow down. Put down the phone, pick up a brush, a book, an instrument, a camera, a pencil or get down on the floor and play with your kids or your pet. Unwind. Chill.
Have you ever imagined what point in your life you would return to if you could? If you could travel back in your lifetime, where would you go? I would travel back to a time, when my sweet kids were little – in grade school. A cold winter day outside, the heat on inside our home and doors safely locked. I would make them dinner and place it in front of them, on the couch, in a chair, on the floor, by the computer We didn’t have a dining room table, because I moved it downstairs for my daughter to sew on. We would watch the Simpsons and after dinner we would play a game together, probably Super Smash brothers or Mario Kart. When it was time for bed, we would all climb up in the top bunk together, and I would read each of them the story they chose. I’d kiss them goodnight, wish them sweet dreams, turn on the nightlights and lay down on my couch/bed. As I dozed off, I would think about how to make tomorrow a little better if I could. That was the Why for my life for many years. And that light will always shine in my heart.
Reducing stress, chilling out, and taking life to a down tempo requires you to answer the Why of Your Life. Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you do it to buy a giant TV, rocket car, a gold house? Why are you in such a rush in the morning? Are you hurrying out of your home to rush off to a job you love? If not, ask why. Is there no time left in the day for play? No time for yourself? Not enough time for those you love? Why? Take the time to find the way back to the positive place where your heart is. Reclaim the why of your life. Thank you for your time. Bless you.