Living at the Speed of Life
I think the most common sentiment I’ve heard lately is some variation of: “This summer has gone so fast!” or “Where did the time go?” Personally, I’ve listened to myself utter those words annoyingly often.
Time. It kills me.
I’d love to just ride the waves, to go with the flow, to stop trying to capture Time as if cupping my hands under a torrent of water as it ceaselessly overflows.
I understand why anxiety has become a common state of being in our society. We live these lives, full of family and friends and work and obligations and dirty floors and licenses to renew and cards to send and dreams to feed and groceries to buy and emails to return and software to download so we can upload some damn pictures to help us at least remember.
Meanwhile, my Body and Soul magazine teeming with articles on how to slow down and renew and relax sits in the basket in my bathroom unread next to the toilet that needs to be cleaned.
I think about the phenomenon of Time a lot. I want more of it. I want it to slow down long enough so I can catch my breath, for God’s sake.
Last week Paul and I took our first vacation together in four years. For five days, we mountain biked in Colorado and camped in the back of our red rental minivan, turning moments to memories at the speed of light. As we pulled into to our driveway from the airport, I had the oddest sensation that it was all a dream. In the time it takes to snap my fingers, the adventure was over.
Being a mother, I have a new barometer with which to measure how fast Time goes–the growth of Oliver and Lucy. It is so painfully swift, its current threatens to drive me insane. I want to run outside, raise my arms up, and scream to the sky, “Slow down!”
I was thinking this morning about the relativity of Time–how a year to Oliver is 1/4 of his life, and how a year to Lucy is 1/2 of her life.
A year in my life is now 1/37. A shrinking proportion.
When I write, however, I am able to slow Time. As the words uncurl themselves from my Sharpie, it’s like untangling a ball of yarn in my head. Slowly, I pull the jumbled contents of my thoughts out onto the paper where I can see and feel and organize them. When I write, I dump the random thoughts from my head that keep me from being present in my precious moments. If I begin my day with even ten minutes of writing, I feel calmer. When I pin the thoughts that run circles in my mind down on paper, I feel lighter. I can let them go. I gain perspective. I reflect on my life and come back to myself.
But to write, we must make the time. I doubt a gaping hole of time will ever appear where we can finally begin all of the things we want and need to begin. We must begin now, today. We must find a way, our own way, to slow down time to renew and reflect. It’s a cleansing of our mental and emotional closets. It helps us to see clearly where our thoughts are going, where we are squandering our time, and where we need to focus.
Right now, close your computer, take out your journal or a piece of paper or a to-go menu, and write for ten minutes. You very well may end up writing for a longer period of time, but at least give yourself these ten minutes. Begin anywhere in your mind. You aren’t trying to figure your whole life out. You are just giving yourself a space of time.
If you have a difficult time facing a blank page, begin with this simple mantra: “I am…” When you run out of things to say, begin again with the words, “I am.”
For example: “I am sitting in Namaste Cafe on Hennepin Avenue writing on my computer. My masala chai has long since been drained. I am typing this blog entry because I want to publish something every Wednesday. I am excited to meet up with my pals from Hamline in St. Paul. I am trying to live this life as best as I can. I am breathless at times from living and loving this life. I am wearing out my welcome at this table as the restaurant fills up and my check waits to be signed…
Take this time to honor yourself, your thoughts, and your moments. Go to a coffee shop or sit on a park bench or at your kitchen table and give yourself the gift of ten minutes. Pay attention to how you feel before you write and then after. Feel free to comment and share how this practice felt for you.
Until next Wednesday when I post another entry on the practice of journaling, enjoy this gift of life. Enjoy your personal adventure through it all.
Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and a teacher. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Teaching from Hamline University. She has been writing in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom. For this reason, she must write as a way to understand herself and her life, stay sane, and dream big dreams. She feels blessed to share this healing and illuminating practice with as many people as possible in her lifetime…