It is only when you slow down that you can take a moment to see the beauty around you. It’s only then that you can see the boats as you run along the water, feel the magnificent air on your sweaty face, or see the thousands of other humans doing the same around you.
In a city so crowded as mine, and a world so vast, the ability to block out everything around us is uncanny. Why do I say us when I mean me? Good question. I do mean me. My ability, that of my very own. This unbelievable and absurd ability I’ve honed to block out everything around me. And yet, somehow absorb everyone else’s joy but my own. What a strange oxymoronical irony, I know.
But here I sit. And here I am. Just little, too little, old me.
Sometimes you have to strip away the old to make room for the new. That’s the old saying, right? The old adage, the eye-roll-inducing line. But no, don’t roll your eyes.
I rolled my eyes, too. I understand. I rolled my eyes so far back into my head at this very thought for so long I think I lost them back there. But not anymore. The universe is quite a place. Full of distractions, treadmills, juices, diets, Netflix, antioxidants… all of that. It is such a strange and crowded place. But I think maybe and only maybe, that the universe is also a place of authenticity. And one that just might look out for you once in a while.
Out of room
I was never one for signs. In truth, I probably still am not. But I do know where I was just a few months ago. And I know where I am now. I was crippled by my possessions. Unable to move in my apartment, my brain. I had no room for anything else. Possessions, more possessions, I just couldn’t seem to reach the end of them. There were somehow always more to be had.
That, and that, and another one of that, wait that too, and more of those and that too! Until — no, there is no room left here. I have no room on this sidewalk in the realm of my personal street, the sidewalk of possessions is ending. And I must stop. And then, just like that, I did. Where the sidewalk of belongings end, said Shel Silverstein. And also, so said me, where and there the sidewalk ends.
All the running, the treadmills, and Nikes, the fast-paced speed of life, relentless repression of feeling and reality. So much speed. Running away from anything real. Running and buying and possessing and more possessing. I honestly don’t know where it ended and where it began. But what was it all for? For what exactly? Joy? No. Fulfillment? None. So many things only crowd an already-crowded soul.
And a soul should have the space to breathe.
Mine did not.
So I decided to let go of some of the crap weighing down on my heart and my mind. And my little old self. It was just too much to hold up, my muscles aren’t that strong and so I had to let it go. And now that I stripped it all away, here in this moment, stripped away the bags, perhaps a bit of the make-up, a necklace less than before, a name brand no more, now what is left? What remains here in this little spot on the eleventh floor of the world? All that remain here now is me, little old me. Little old me with less things but with more inside. It used to be the inverse. But inverse no more.
This is the way it needs to be. I needed to come to this place, to get here, to finally land in this spot of simplicity, realness, and truth. I somehow had to be forced to see clearly enough to know I had to stand in my own truth. And I was.
The thing is, there are so many distractions and ways to escape, to numb the sobering realities of the mundane reality of everyday life. I know all of them all too well. But when you turn off the TV and pull out the headphones, put the volume on mute and the texts on night mode, you can allow yourself to just be. Take the breath. Force yourself to feel your regular female stomach expand when you breathe deeply.
When you slow down and take a breath, an authentic, long, unrushed breath, it is then and only then when you can begin to heal.
Me, I’m just starting to breathe. I’m a grown-up, three decades and more under my belt. And I am only just learning to breathe like the worthy person I am. I deserve to take in the world. It is a beautiful place but only now can I see that. With the time, patience and mindfulness to see it.
And even though I am just starting now, I feel fortunate to have found the key to unlocking that horrible big black door about which I have previously written and spoken. That ominous and threatening padlocked door I once saw clouding all my sun and the sun of my world. I still see that damn door. In fact, it’s right there right now even as I sit at the end of my little desk at work. That dumb and persistent door seems to follow me still. So tall and hard to open. But the key is dangling here on my pinky finger, it is now unlatchable and detachable. And at least there’s that. Perhaps it was not me alone who found the key. Probably not. I had help locating it along the way.
Of locks and doors and keys and signs, of thoughts and poems and words and prose. Maybe the universe does send signs every now and again. And for those of us who can unclog our ears and minds enough to receive them, they can be grand. They can also be totally silent, on mute, like the text message of life that keeps popping up. Tap for more or dismiss – it is our choice.
I tapped for more – I clicked for details. Slow down and stop running, it said. Stop running physically and stop running emotionally. Please try to stop running away and sucking it in and take the damn breath. It’s time to just take the breath. Feel the pain. Cry the tears. Eat the bagel. Put away the dishes. Because all those things — those are things that are real. Bags and jewelry, beauty and fakery, tomatoes and kale – those are things that are not real.
Slowing Down Now
So here I am again and here I am now. Slowing. Down. Right here, in the confines of my own space, my own place, and my own mind. I am slowing down in life. And taking it in, sometimes in quick-paced breaths, and sometimes slower drags. I am taking in the good, whatever contingent of it I discover, the less-than-good, the empty and the full. I am taking it in and all that comes with it.
And for now, that is just fine with me.