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?