The vagaries of ‘fast’

Well, if the benefits of snow (slow) were obvious in December and early January, the vagaries of ‘fast’ were all too apparent in January! All of sudden lots of busy-ness, deadlines, meetings, more and more, faster and faster, non-stop like the proverbial merry-go-round. And sometimes this kind of busy-ness can feel productive – after all we’re working hard so that’s something to be congratulated. But, at the end of the month, or when things die down a little bit and the trees become visible within the woods – rather than some kind of distant blur – how much has actually been achieved? What joy has there been in the process?

Sometimes we can’t know for sure how productive we’ve been until some time and space has been put between our actions and their eventual outcome. A brief meeting over coffee might spark the next big project in our work or home lives, or serendipitously lead to a great connection/book/event/mutual friend, whatever … or it might ‘just’ be a great coffee with a friend, in itself a source of joy. Sometimes, sadly, it can lead to negative spirals if the conversation turns around on those thing we cannot control, our external forces of frustration. Sometimes, then, coffee can be toxic!

This week, in a counter-culture to the vagaries of the speed experienced last month, I’ve withdrawn from everything that I could do. Didn’t go to any of the classes or events I usually do, and led a simpler life with less distraction. More focused on sleeping, eating, walking the dogs, working my day job and being here now. I retarted a journal, 3 pages a day, but weirdly did no formal meditation – being slow didn’t extend to being ‘formally’ slow, as it were. There is some guilt about that, but not much.

What was the result?

Dropping everything was freeing! I wouldn’t like to live my life like that all the time, but taking a positive rest from everything felt good (rather than a negative rest, usually due to ‘work’, leading to guilt or frustration or indeed both). I dreamt more every night, the strangest dreams. And, in the moments between sleeping and wakefulness I found a central thread to a work issue I’d been pondering on for some time, something to hook my work onto positively, and a new direction that I feel genuinely excited about. It is early days, but this week’s experiment has taught me that the most unexpected things can come from taking a step back, from being less driven, and to allow space for what is bubbling under the radar to leap up and show itself.

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