A few days ago, I slowed down.
While this might not sound like much of a news flash to you, it was a big deal to me. Because I rarely do it.
Our days are full. We wake early and start hustling to get out of the house on time for school and work. While the kids are in school, I run errands, go grocery shopping, do housework, work on our rental properties, visit nursing homes. Afternoon carpool usually comes before my list is checked off, leaving the undone tasks for the next day. After school it’s homework, dinner, often more homework. (If you’ve been around for a while, you know my son is dyslexic, so he needs more assistance than most kids his age. So I’m not done til he’s done.)
Baskets of laundry often line the walls upstairs, and piles of mail await attention. I have a hard time overlooking all the undone work and relaxing, so when I’m home I’m usually in motion.
I tell myself that it’s this phase of my life. That I will be able to slow down one day. One of my boys is in college, another heading off in the fall. That’ll leave just one kid at home. And before I know it, he’ll be grown, too, and I’ll have all the time I need to finish my to-do list. But for now, I’m just too damn busy.
Too damn busy to notice what’s going on around me. Too engaged in action. Too full of distracting detail. Too preoccupied to notice the beauty around me.
In a slower time, I was very good at “everyday beauty.” I’d linger at the corner to take in the field of clover or pause to admire the clouds. I took pride in my garden and home. I helped neighbors. I sent hand-written birthday cards, baked cupcakes, did good deeds. I made it my mission to see beauty in every day, and to share it with others.
But I’ve become so busy I’ve forgotten to pause and see it.
I’ve reduced myself to a “get it done” life.
And it has taken a toll on me.
So last Sunday, I was forced to slow down. My son had a choir concert, which is a very big deal to him. We kept our church clothes on (which made it feel like an even bigger deal) and went across town to hear him sing.
After we arrived, I fumbled with the program to make sure my son’s name was spelled right and resisted the urge to pull out my phone and check Facebook while we waited for the performance to begin. I just sat. Still and quiet.
I looked around at the church and admired the architecture. I stared out the window at the clouds. I looked at my nearly-grown son sitting next to me and marveled at how handsome he has become. Things slowed down.
The children took the stage and started singing. And the words that flowed were the very words I needed to hear at that exact moment.
“Let me know beauty in my mind, in my sight, let it brighten my daytime, let it comfort my night. Let my mind know the beauty that the world has to give, O let me know beauty for as long as I live…” — Allan E. Naplan
I needed to be reminded of this. I needed to be reminded that beauty and joy and happiness are out there for the taking. But they don’t come to you if you aren’t open to receive them. Whizzing by in a hurry leaves them sitting there, waiting for the next taker.
So I’m going to slow down, recognize the beauty around me, and let it become part of me. I’m going to look out of the window more. Admire the architecture more. Listen more intently. Take it all in.
Because beauty is out there. It’s up to me to slow down and discover it.
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Do you find yourself too busy to see the beauty around you? If not, tell me your secrets, please.
And do you check the program to see if your kid’s name is spelled right?
I find that I am surprised at how many details I miss about life. For instance, yesterday my kids were talking to me about their favorites scenes of a cartoon we watched together several months ago. And while I had a vague memory of watching it with them, I really don’t remember anything about it – I must have thinking of what was going to be for lunch, or maybe I was checking email? And that sort of conversation seems to be happening a lot lately. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and truly take in what is happening, especially with my family.
I just have to click like so U can go off and enjoy some if this beauty of which you speak.
I’m listening to my son sing instead of doing his homework. I think I’ll listen a little longer before I go put a stop to it. 🙂
Bravo, Lisha! As always, you express so succinctly and exquisitely what we all need to hear. God bless!
Thank you, Lisa! We all share a great deal, don’t we?
I wrote a lengthy comment, but the internet ate it. Anyway, I will summarize: It’s healthy and important to take advantage of the moments we have to enjoy the beauty of the world, even if those moments are sometimes fleeting. I’m glad you are doing this, my friend. Love to you and yours.
Well I found the one the Internet ate, but I’m keeping both if that’s OK with you. 🙂
It’s so coincidental that yesterday you and I had almost exactly the same experience. I left CHNOLA for a little while (where my day is full of meetings, phone calls, caring for RB, etc) and visited a used book store down the road I’ve been eyeing up for the last year. I felt refreshed. It is good to prioritize, but also good to realize your well-being and enjoying the beautiful things in the world are also a priority. Love to you and yours.
With spring about to erupt here in NOLA, I hope you can find a moment to linger in the park, or under one of the oaks along the river. Right after they stop raining down pollen, of course.
And lunch with me. That would be good, too.
That would be great. If you’re free March 23 you should come hang out and see me get my head shave. 🙂
What I needed. What I think most of us, as moms, daughters, sisters, friends, volunteers–just as women–need; a reminder to just slow down and see the beauty we are surrounded by. Every day. Thank you!
I keep forgetting, then reminding. I’m seeing a pattern. I guess as long as I’m remembering eventually, I’m doing OK. Hugs to you and yours, TM!
I just deleted 10 apps from my phone because I find they are such a distraction! I am trying to plug into life more. Everyone is so busy. I kind of hate it. Seriously. I haven’t even had time to really write blogs because I’m trying to hard to work on my book. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I’ve lost all focus. I feel like closing up shop and just living. Is that so wrong?
No, it’s not wrong. I get it. And I hate it, too. I spend over three hours each day in the car driving back and forth to school. When I think of how productive I could be instead of sitting, frustrated, in traffic. But it’s what we have to do for the Dude, so it’s what I do. The things I do for ME always find their way to the bottom of the list, leaving me unfulfilled.
I think part of my “problem” is that so much of what I have to do is beyond my control. So I end up frustrated and sad. Even if it’s just a drive through the park or a cup of coffee with a friend, making time for that is a must.
I’m sorry, was I just reading about your life or mine???? Brilliant! Thank you!
We are kindred, aren’t we? So many of us, going through the same phase of our lives, experiencing the same things. I’m glad the Internet has brought us together. When I get the DVD of the concert I’ll try to post an excerpt from the song (if it doesn’t violate copyright laws to do so).