Slowing Down to Speed Up

Yesterday, I sat on the couch or the bed pretty much the whole day (when I wasn’t warming up soup), beside my coughing, hurting sick little boy. I didn’t step foot outside. I didn’t get any work done. I simply sat with him, dozed with him, read to him and talked with him, giving a spot of medicine or a sip of water or a bowl of soup as needed.

There was a moment early on in the last three weeks, when I was at my grandmother’s hospital room and I remarked to my children, “There is no place I’d rather be.”

Yes, I had things to do and goals to reach, but at that moment, I only wanted to be beside my grandmother and among family. It felt like the most important thing I had in front of me.

Yesterday was the same way. And I am reminded yet again of the importance and heft of slowing down in order to accomplish everything we want in this life.

Racing through the days and hours and weeks, just to check off items on our to-do lists accomplishes nothing more than making us frantic and frenzied. When all we focus on is achievement and work, we are focusing on nothing real.

It’s the connections, the relationships, the people behind the work that make anything worthwhile. Why do work? Because I want to help someone who has put their trust in me.

I have a hard time slowing down. Anyone who knows me knows that I juggle and multi-task more than most. And most weeks, that’s just fine – except when something happens, like my grandmother’s heart attack or my little boy’s illness – when the universe is telling me to focus, to quiet, to slow, to be.

Really, if I took the approaching of BE-ing every day, I might go farther in life. I truly believe that. On the days when I meditate twice, my work is better, my success rates higher, my relationships richer. On those days, I have taken time to just BE, even just a little slice of time, just for a brief break, and it infuses the rest of everything and me with purpose and focus and peace.

In the night, my little one came to me twice, hacking his cough and needing to be held. There was nothing more important. My girl came to me in the black of night, shaking from a nightmare. There was nothing more important calling to me than the need to hold her, reassure her, listen to her, smooth her hair.

So my sleep was fragmented and short. So what? Would I really rather sleep soundly through the night than have these important interactions, these relationships that keep us going?

Not on your life.

I remember, when I stepped into the Orthodox world so many moons ago, I wondered how my work would flow if I shut down for the two or three days mandated by holiday laws. But you know what happened, don’t you? It all got done, and even better for the fact that I gained clarity from taking a few days away.

No editors fired me. No stories flopped. I still succeeded.

Same thing with this life now. I may not have religion mandating that I step away from the fray for a day or two, but other reasons arise: children, family, my own peace of mind and sometimes, yes, a holiday shows its pretty face.

When I take time to be in the moments and connect with the traditions and flavors of life, my work soars. When I only focus on getting things done and moving forward, I stall.

Think about it, as the spring holidays approach us. Are you really that indispensable? Isn’t there time for real life among the commitments?

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