In my normal life, I move at a fast speed. I have a fast-paced job, in which I must often work on several projects simultaneously. At times, it feels like I’m one of those acrobats who spins plates. I dash from plate to plate, making sure that all of them are spinning at their proper speeds. Although that sounds stressful, I love it. I crave the satisfaction of being able to keep all of these projects churning along, through my hard work and attention.
In my non-work life, I still like to vibrate at that high energy, fast clip. On weekends, my husband and I are often dashing from activity to activity. Movies-groceries-cleaning-time with friends-events-sleep. Again, I’m spinning plates, trying to touch all of the activities that are necessary or fun (or both), with the hopes that I keep myself fulfilled and entertained. This is the pace I tend to like, even if I wouldn’t call it relaxing.
Since my surgery, I have slowed down. Immediately following my surgery (two weeks ago today), I spent three days doing nothing but sleeping, eating, and playing on the internet. At first, those were the only activities I felt that I could do, in the haze of groggy pain and medication. It’s all I wanted to do. My body sent me one clear message: slow down now. Any time I tried to push myself to do something beyond the bounds of my energy and physical well-being, my body rebelled. I would hurt or would want to sleep. I did my best to listen.
A curious thing happened in the week following this enforced slow-down. My creative brain started speaking to me again.
See, in the past few months, I hadn’t been writing or creating much of anything. I was zooming through life, working and going to school and maintaining my friendships and responsibilities. In all of this busyness, I didn’t have the time or energy to write poetry or collage. I was too busy. I was afraid that perhaps my muse had left me.
But then, here I was living in this slow dream-state as my body took to the task of getting better and I had the time (and a little energy) to write and create. I began listening, not only to my body, but to the little tickles in the back of my brain that signaled poetry ideas. I was having some fun again with writing and thinking about writing, which had been a missing component in my life.
In a little moment of serendipity, I’ve been reading a bit about the benefits of a slow lifestyle. GOOD magazine, one of my favorites out of our many subscriptions, has used “slow” as its theme for its most recent issue. The features include a review of the slow food movement, the benefits of eliminating busy-ness from our lives, and the beauty of slow-made goods. As I read these articles and experience a slower (by physical necessity) lifestyle, I can see the benefits of trying to vibrate at a lower pitch.
Here is my conundrum: As I’m healing, my pace is quickening, but I’m not back to full speed. Physically, I have more energy in the day, which is making me more than a little restless. I’m wheeling around on my crutches with more and more facility each day. I’m getting out in the world, visiting friends, going shopping and adding activity back into my life. Still, I’m not at the point where I can power through a full day of errands and activities without consequences. For example, yesterday, I went shopping with my husband to two different stores and went to a very low-key New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house. Today, my body is telling me forcefully to slow down. All I want to do is sleep and read, which is really not a bad way to spend a day off.
Living in this limbo, between quick and slow, has been difficult. I know that next week (the first week of school for the winter trimester), I will have to accomplish a million and one tasks and work harder than I’ve worked in weeks. But I also want to hold on to a small slice of this relaxation and increased creativity. In this next year, as I evaluate my time and energy use, I think I’ll have to learn how to incorporate a bit more of this slowness into my life, even if it’s only for a day (or an hour) at a time.