It’s been a wonderfully full few months. So full, I’ve had to get very focused with my priorities. This is the best thing about fullness – it doesn’t allow room for hot air or bad energy. And, so I’ve had to – for the first time in almost four years – drop this blog for two weeks. I had a gap to build.
In spite of concerted efforts to slow my life down, things have sped up. I was in Forbes (central west New South Wales; population 7500) last week, speaking at a business lunch, and a woman in her forties approached me – with little tears in her eyes – to share that she, too, was trying to slow down but feared that because she was such a frenetic person who attracts lots of “doingness” into her life, she was doomed.
“Ah,” I said.
“You can keep doing, but be still while doing so.”
And you can have lots going on, if you own it in your own way.
It’s taken years for me to work this out. Slowing down for me isn’t necessarily about slowing down what I’m doing on the outside. It’s slowing down on the inside, getting gentle and mindful and happy with my speed and activity. It’s having techniques that I choose to turn to, so that I can do what I do best: doing. Because…
You can choose to be while you do.
One of the techniques I actively choose is having pauses. Proper pauses. I was overjoyed to read in Esquire’s What I’ve Learned series the other day that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke does the same. The headline is his, in fact.
I worked for the duration of my recent “holiday” in Sardinia. It was unavoidable and I chose to be OK with this. I’ve taken on a US book deal and, now, a UK book deal (this just happened), my business has grown from two people (me and Jo) to ten staff in just a few months, I have a second book coming out in March and, as I write this, I’m on a plane to Melbourne to shoot the cover for it.
My to-do list is long. But, I pause. I build my own gaps – meditation every morning, shutting down my computer when it suits me, simply not replying to emails until I have an answer and mostly choosing not to fret. Choosing to feel there are gaps and languidness.
I choose space. I’ve written about how most of us actually need more space, not more time, before.
The interview is worth a read. Yorke’s wisdoms are sound and extraordinarily kind:
“I think what makes people ill a lot of the time is the belief that your thoughts are concrete and that you’re responsible for your thoughts. Whereas actually — the way I see it — your thoughts are what the wind blows through your mind.”
“All walls are great if the roof doesn’t fall.”
Which is to say, there are many rules. But you can ignore them if you can find a way to shelter yourself your own way. A few gaps here and there are often all that’s needed.
Do you punish yourself for being too fast? Would it make a difference if you had permission to be fast and chose – yourself – to be cool and calm and gentle with this?