After many decades of living I now aim to reclaim the spirit of “no rushing.” To become more like my Grandmother who worked hard every day but seemed like the one who was not busy. How did she do that, I wonder. She, who had no modern conveniences, prepared all of her own food, after planting, weeding, harvesting and canning the fruits of her labour, still had time to entertain her grandchildren with rollicking stories of the “olden days,” while she finished knitting another pair of socks or crocheting a new runner for the hall table.
I don’t believe in unnecessary comparisons. Times are different now, and I get that. We don’t organize our lives by the seasons or the setting sun anymore. However, I do believe there is wisdom to be learned, through the experience of those who have gone before us. And I now believe that my Grandmother gave herself wholeheartedly to whatever she was doing, in the circumstances in which she found herself. I believe that her life had meaning.
In other words, when she was picking wild strawberries, she wasn’t wishing to be doing something else. She didn’t expend energy wishing things were different than they were. She had no notion that life should be easier or designed just to make her happy. It seems to me in retrospect her main purpose, beyond providing the basics, was to make sure she was adding to the joy, beauty and happiness of those who were in her circle of influence. And lending a hand whenever she could.
I am a busy person. I have many things I want to finish while I can, and I have a wealth of interests. I will never get to read all the books, or finish all of my tasks. I have no idea how long I will be around. When my expiry date arrives, I will leave unfinished business behind. What I do know is that I want to do what I can do now, without being frantic and without demanding the impossible of myself in the way I use to do. I want the people in my life to know that I have time for them in the here and now. I want to know that I have time to moodle.
I am experimenting, especially, as my own energy is at a lower ebb and Christmas is coming, along with other deadlines. You may consider designing your own experiment.
- What are three most important things that need doing today? Do them.
- Lower my standards in two ways:
- -1- Perfection is an idea and a myth and can keep us from doing something we would love to do, for fear that we can’t measure up. Give up on perfection and finish the work.
- -2- Do less of everything. Example: Instead of 10 things, do half.
- -3- TIP: Lowering your standards isn’t about sloughing off. It is about being realistic. You don’t have to do it all. You can’t do it all. It is about picking and choosing what is meaningful to you.
- Instead of the gourmet meal for 20, do a simple delicious meal for X. (unless the feast is what you love doing)
- Ask for help. We all like to help. You are not alone.
- My daughter likes to, or, is willing to iron the table cloths and wrap the Christmas gifts as long as I give them to her early. And so I do.
- Can’t face cooking the big turkey dinner. Order the entire meal from a hotel or grocery store who specializes in creating these delicious dinners. We did this at Thanksgiving and everyone was happy. We shared the cost with friends and there were leftovers for everyone to take home.
- Gift giving is a wonderful tradition if you keep it simple and feasible. I sometimes give away a possession that I own and love, to someone else, whom I love. It is a lovely way to continue to enjoy something precious, when you view it from a different angle.
- Writing a few cards: it is evident to me that we all love getting especially chosen and hand written cards, from people we care about. The gift of expressing our admiration and affection while we are alive, is not to be overestimated. These gifts are treasures.
- Start early. Everything takes longer than it seems. Avoid the last minute whenever possible.
- Take time to dream. Allow the mind to wonder. Moodle. Every 60 seconds does not need to be filled with productive activity.
In the meantime, when we can start letting go of our own self-imposed constraints and open up to the wonder that is this moment, and can still do something for others and for ourselves, we are free. We are free to love and laugh and wholeheartedly engage with life on our terms and in the manner within which we find ourselves now. We are free to make mistakes. We are free to start over. We are free to learn new dance steps.
Fighting with what we cannot have and regretting what we cannot change adds to our suffering and angst. Living, fully living, giving our time to what we can do now, gives us unparalleled freedom to flourish in this moment. And guess what, when we stop doing so many things out of habit and custom, we are free to do more of the things we love without rushing. Freedom indeed.
Note 1: This is the latter part of November. The last two months of the year are always busy. And why I suggest that we “lower our standards,” is because I don’t want you or me to be criticizing ourselves and beating ourselves up for all that we couldn’t do. “No throwing sticks at your heart,” as the poet Hafiz writes. Make time for joyful moments.
Note2: As I write these posts, I am always aware that I don’t know the circumstances of each reader. I do know that the world is trustworthy, even when it seems like it is falling apart. Any suggestions I ever make or imply are done with the complete understanding that you know best what you need to do. Take what you want and discard the rest. Thanks for reading these musings. See you next week, Trudy