And now my pace is outstripping my enjoyment of many things. I eat fast, so I haven't learned to savor. I move fast, so I pass by many moments of beauty or intimacy. I think fast, so the span of my ponderings are an inch deep and a mile wide. I react fast, so I easily wound those who are closest to me.
Society values speed and efficiency. Just look at the premium we place on speed for cell phones and internet. If a web page takes longer than 2.3 seconds to load, I groan, complain, move on to the next. I want my devices and technology to move as fast as I do. If you don't believe me, just watch this AT&T commercial:
(I'm not gonna lie, these commercials make me laugh every single time.)
But with all the speed and constant movement, I am starting to feel thin. In the words of Bilbo Baggins, "like butter scraped over too much bread." I am growing to resent my chosen pace of life. Yet, I'm finding that it's not necessarily the pace that wears me thin, but the relentlessness of the pace.
A communications professor I had once said that, in public speaking, a speaker needs to periodically offer his or her audience an oasis. A moment of calm amidst the message for that message to have time to seep in. He gave the examples of anecdotes or jokes that speakers use, not just to add levity and be more engaging, but to allow for the marination of ideas. The mind can only process so much information at once.
My new practice amidst my frenetic pace of life is finding the oasis. Allowing myself to cease striving, take a minute, be still. I have claimed 15 minutes of my morning routine as an oasis. I sit at my desk. I sip coffee. I listen to music. I read blogs. I think.
I found an oasis last Sunday when speaking with a friend. I stopped sprinting from my kids' sunday school classes to the church service to the bathroom to . . . and I sat with her and we laughed. It was a 10 minute oasis.
I found an oasis on Monday when I traveled with a group of students to Washington, D.C. We were in Ford's Theater, wandering around the museum of artifacts and information about the assassination of Lincoln. (I know, of all places for an oasis to surface, right?) I sat down on a bench, alone in front of a TV monitor that displayed a video of all living presidents reading passages of the Gettysburg Address. After a few minutes I stopped listening to the screen and just sat thinking, pondering, musing. I felt a settling in my chest, a calm. It lasted only a few moments, but it was enough.
These pockets of peace, these oases, can be spontaneous or intentional. But those of the spontaneous nature are so easily missed. Yet once you start looking for them, you start to learn their tells, their calling cards, so that next time you can find or create them more easily.
For example, I find an oasis any time I read poetry. Maybe it's the cadence of the words, or the silky sinew of the line, but it brings such calm to me. Now, even when reading a poem amidst a classroom full of squirrelly students, I can still find the oasis (fleeting though it might be).
Have you found an oasis, a pocket of calm in life's whorl? I'd love to hear about it, maybe even be on the lookout for it along with you!
Have a happy Wednesday, friends!
Anna, once again you have spoken my heart. I, too, have been in search of oases. My most recent discovery came in the form of a room switch-around. In a last-ditch effort to eliminate (or at least curb) our piles of laundry (you've seen them), we condensed our children into two rooms and claimed one bedroom as the laundry area. In doing so, a rocking chair wound up in the corner of our master bedroom, where it barely fits and definitely doesn't jive with the other furnishings. Yet in just three days' time it has repeatedly inspired me to sit, breathe, think, and pray in the midst life's frenetic pace. For now, it is my favorite oasis. Others I've enjoyed have been the shower (with the bathroom door LOCKED), long solitary walks, and, oddly enough, the cemetery. Maybe I'm nuts, but I find graveyards to be quiet, still, and a safe place to weep without passerby thinking they should intervene.ReplyDelete
Yes! I love to walk around the cemetery by our house. One of the quietest places I know. And I too have a rocking chair in my bedroom that I would love to sit on. . . if only I could find it beneath the mountain of clothes. Thanks, Alison. Love seeing you here.Delete
if we all took time to find our oasises, how much nicer we would be to each other.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder.
(And your photo is beautiful!)
You're right, Debbi, I think kindness would abound if we each sought out these moments of calm. Thank you.Delete
Sometimes the cat settles into my lap just as I finish the last paragraph of what I was reading or editing. So I sit for another five minutes, stroking her, eyes closed and mind wandering.ReplyDelete
Ah, the peace a pet can bring. I know the days I wake up with my cat curled atop my feet in bed are going to be good days. Thanks, Lisa.Delete
My best times were when I used to ride out on my horse about daylight. I'm unmounted, now, but I still walk, and think, and pray before the day starts and my mind is still unscrambled. I remember very well when I was in your stage of life. I once told Gramps I felt like a border collie constantly circling her huge flock until I'd drop for a few seconds at a time to pant then be off again.ReplyDelete
Very nice post and the att commercial is hilarious. I hope my grandsons don't see it--they will definitely get ideas.
And I LOVE your pictures. They are beautiful and so are you. :)
Yes, herding. That's what I feel like I'm doing! If it's not my own kids it's my students. *pant! pant! pant!* I remember riding horses when I was younger (a friend own a couple of Arabians) and there was such astounding freedom when riding. Though unmounted I admire your daylight walks to think and pray. I wish I was less of an I-loath-mornings person who could get up and out without bordering on homicidal. But I'm working on it :) Glad you liked the pictures and the commercial--there aren't any cheetahs in OK are there? :)Delete
I kind of got chills reading this. I have been feeling this way for a couple of months, this being worn out by the relentlessness, as you as you described, of the pace of my life. And I keep thinking that there is a lesson I need to learn. That I am noticing this because something needs to shift. When I was traveling it was easy to find those oases, but in the day to day at home I need to look for them more.ReplyDelete
Yes, traveling seems to be an oasis in itself. So much harder in the day-to-day grind. I'm with you, Stevie!Delete
Oh yes, those wonderful, quiet moments, where one just pauses, and we can just be. I did that this week - I took many, many moments. I read. I sat and wrote. It has been awesome.ReplyDelete
So glad you had an oasis-week, Alison. That is awesome!Delete