What I Hope My Children Learn: No. 4 – Slow Down!

tortoise

“Donna,” my boss called, “come in here.” My co-worker joined us, and he said shut the door. I knew why. The day before I made a significant error. Not grave, but big nonetheless. I was new to this job, so I was nervous. When the door opened ten minutes later, two words remained in my mind, “Slow down.”

Slow down. How ironic! I have always been like the hare in that old children’s story. Running to and fro, accomplishing little. Not even finishing a race that should have been a cinch to win. But, middle age has a way of teaching me things. Anxiety forces me to slow the hell down. Slow down on the road, slow down at home, slow down at work.

I hope my kids learn to slow down now while they are young and full of energy. When I was a young adult, I was idling way too high. What I wanted, I wanted now and in its entirety. Whatever passions or needs I needed gratified, I couldn’t wait for their fulfillment in an appropriate timetable. I thought having all that I wanted would make me happy. Boy, was I unprepared for adulthood. But now that I am older and have slowed down, I have gleaned some important tips.

Turn off the noise makers. The TV, the Ipod, the computer, the maddening thoughts that whisk you into a frenzy. And stop. And breathe. And listen.

Stop. Stop worrying. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Breathe. Breathe deep. Being near the ocean, I enjoy an exquisite air quality. Mixed with a little sea scent and hint of fish, a deep draught is intoxicating. And relaxing.

And listen. Listen to the birds early in the morning. Listen to the unending pulse of the surf and the howling ocean wind. Listen to those thoughts that are deep down inside of you and soon things become untangled or at least manageable.

Slow down and enjoy today. G.K. Chesterton wrote: The modern world has far too little understanding of the art of keeping young. Its notion of progress has been to pile one thing on top of another, without caring if each thing was crushed in turn. People forgot that the human soul can enjoy a thing most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for it. And by crowding things together they lost the sense of surprise; and surprise is the secret of joy.  Slow down and make room for surprises.

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