I notice that I have become slow. At first, I thought it was because of old age. How I love old age! It can be blamed for anything and everything as the perfect absolver of any responsibility for anything. And, I have seen it used that way by myself and others.
Then, my next excuse was because of my eyes. Before I had my cataract surgery, I was a bit blind and I was fascinated with how insecure I felt not quite knowing where I was in time and space. (Before, I thought I knew!) And now my eyes are perfect. As my realtor said after his surgery, “I could pick a sniper off at two miles.” I do not expect to be in that situation anytime soon and I do feel more secure in knowing that I now have that option. I can wear my glasses – or not – my bifocals – or not – my reading glasses – or not – or my combination “piano/reading glasses” (for working on planes) – or not and I have many options of how and when I want to be oriented in time or space. Logically, there is no reason to slow down.
I have noticed that when we need to go to town, Pete is always ready before I am. He’s very sweet about it. Come to think about it, both have been true for some time – although he seems to be getting sweeter all the time.
Today, I had some new insights into pace. My room just taught me that I actually like being slower. I have come to know that youth and middle agers don’t really know about being slow. I used to hate it when some old geezer would be slouching down the highway and I would be wanting to get somewhere. The key word here is WANTING. How frustrated and irritated I would get. Now, Pete and I are the ones who people get frustrated and irritated with. We could go fast. We just don’t want to. We like going a bit slower – – – keeping at the speed limit, for example. Boy, how people hate that.
Back to my room. For some time, my room has been telling me that it needs a deep clean – you know, like dusting and sweeping and such. Here in Hawaii, I have no windows – just screens. I am saved from the bugs and not the dust and dirt so at least every few years it needs a good clean.
Well, I have an ambivalent relationship with cleaning. My mother, bless her heart, hated it. She would much rather be out working with the horses. She liked cooking and sewing – the creative aspects of being a housewife. But cleaning, I’m sure she had heard of that old saying, “Why dust, after a couple of years the dust doesn’t get much thicker.” God bless her for this attitude! When I was a psychotherapist, I worked with so many women whose mothers always had “the perfect house” and whatever they did – no matter what – was never good enough. I never had to deal with the weight of that one. How lucky I was. Anything I did was an improvement and I had no guilt. Mother, like most women her age, felt guilty that she didn’t have a perfect house all the time. I actually thought it was great that when the company was coming, Mother, Daddy, the dogs and I with a few uncles pitching in, swung into action and the house always looked passible by the time they arrived. Thanks to her – “what you see is what you get in our house,” (unless visitors come to stay and then they can stay as long as they want – unless they are “breakers.” Our house has too much art and beautiful things for “breakers.”) The visitors can clean as much as they want. It’s okay with me. A clean house is good too.
So, here I am in my room. I am just finishing a liver cleanse – clearly, now is the time to clean. When I sit down to rest – – – my guts still feel a bit queasy. As I sit, my eyes wander around the room. My eyes fall on a book on constitutional law that I have been wanting to read. Needing a rest (from the preparation for cleaning) I pick up the book and read a few pages (it is almost five-hundred pages long with two-hundred pages of appendices, glossary, references and so forth). I read some and I am fascinated with the premises of constitutional law and the PROCESS of it all. After a few pages, I have to make another run to the toilet. The cleanse isn’t over yet.
As I sit in the chair with my feet up, my eyes survey the room. Suddenly, I see new arrangements of my favorite “stuff” (like the chair and hassock in which I am sitting while writing this) and the words flit through my mind “I love being slow.” Feeling no need to rush, I sit a bit and words come flying into my head about the wonders of slowness.
As I ponder these words on how much I love being slow, I am bathed in the awareness that I really, really love being slow. I pull a table out that I want to relocate and am greeted with a lovely accumulation of dust and “things” (I never know what these “things” are or where dust comes from – except through my screens, of course). Then I see that where I want to put the table has some of these “things” too. As I rearrange the tables and sweep the dust into the middle of the room, I realize that I really quite like deep cleaning. In a way it is kind of “slow” in and of itself.
I sweep the dust and things into the middle of the floor and really start grocking on my thoughts on “slow.”
I realize that I can be “fast” when I need to be. I even can drive fast when I need to. In fact, I just proofread an entire manuscript in a few hours yesterday because I wanted to get it done.
Yet, as the pile sits in the middle of the floor, I realized that I just had to sit down and write out how much I love being slow these days and how my best thoughts come when I am slow.
Then I realized, “slow is a choice. It is not a stage of life.”
Most of us have to live a long time to realize that we have the choice to be slow and it is our choice – – – regardless of what others think. So, therefore, some think it is because of age. It’s not. It’s because of growing wisdom . . . in some.
It’s amazing how patient that pile of dust is . . . and also that book on constitutional law.