I don’t know about you, but this whole “life” thing has me completely flat out. I have become a card-carrying member of the “Sisterhood of the Perpetually Exhausted” and tend to flop about in an ineffectual stupor for too many hours per day. To counteract this, I have booked a day of "Team Building" with my couch, favourite blanket, fluffy pillow and mildly deranged Chihuahua. If the planets are in alignment, the book I bought online a couple of days ago will arrive before Friday and I can once again chew through a perfectly good tome in a ridiculously short amount of time, leaving me feeling bereft at the end of the day… Aside to reader: In my stupor, I initially mis-typed "bereft" as "beret". This lead me to wonder how does one feel "beret" at the end of the day??? Will I suddenly end up dressed in a black and white stripey top and black wide-legged pants, riding a jaunty little push bike past the Eiffel Tower, with a large baguette in a basket and a Hermes scarf tied stylishly around my neck??? Or is it more a Marcel Marceau thing, where you feel perpetually trapped in an invisible box ??? Sigh....if you need me, I’ll be in the pillow fort …
In early 2016 I fostered another crazy Rescue Chihuahua. Her name was supposedly Florence, or Flo, but she didn’t respond to it. Unfortunately, she DID respond to me calling her “My Little Shnookie”.
As I wasn’t keen on shouting “My Little Shnookie ?!” at the park, I renamed her Cookie.
We had many adventures before she was rehomed.
Tink (at 7:30am): BEHOLD – I am reborn as a Morning Person; Ruler of The Day !!!
Me: Great. Did you have to do it on a weekend ?!?
Also Tink (15 minutes later): False alarm. Let’s go back to bed.
Me: Thank god !
To enable art/literature/whatever to come to life takes time – precious, unrushable (not a word? don’t care) time. We have had to be willing to take the time to slow down, mull over what was gestating in our brains/hearts and give it the time to coalesce. THEN, we had to shoehorn everything into the nearest cupboard and just DO the thing we love.
This led me to think about the amount of time I give to what I am most passionate about. Subsequently, I am becoming a big fan of the Slow movements: Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Reading, Slow Whatever You Can Think Of.
I realised one day recently that my life was in dire straits at top speed when I thought my idea of a book club that only read the crib notes of books (never the actual books themselves – we were too busy for THAT) was just what all of us needed. It would allow us to squeeze a sliver of literature into our frantically busy and fractured lives.
Fantastic idea for the time-poor book-lover, you say ???
You poor, deluded thing…you must be even busier than I was.
The whole joy of a book is in the actual reading; in holding it in your hand, allowing the story to unfurl and the characters to rise off the page. It’s in getting to the end of a chapter – or the whole book – before you even noticed you were turning the pages, because you were completely immersed in the story.
So, I hauled off and spent my hard-earned money on eight Oxford Classics at a book sale, ordered three books by one of my favourite authors on Amazon and hit a local bookstore for a book I had never seen or heard of before. I am going to force myself to read one at a time (tricky for someone who often has three different tomes on the go) and to really soak in each one.
To facilitate this attempt at Slow Reading and Slow Living, I have come to the conclusion that I really need the following: my own small uncluttered space (in my head, as well as my house), some time to pause and contemplate, and a chaise lounge.
Luckily, I just bought the chaise lounge, now all I have to do is clear the space and put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign. This is going to be fairly tricky, as I used to think that getting 15 things done, in six different areas of Melbourne, in a geographical arc, in four hours was an indication of how organised and clever I was. Now I think it is insane and I try to spread the things over the areas over a week and force myself to shoehorn in some “chillaxing”, as The Youth used to say.
I have been a single parent with a small baby; I have been a student, I have been a full-time worker with a family and a mortgage. I have been an owner-operator of a stupidly busy life… and it was almost the death of me AND my most treasured and important relationships.
I now know that there are ways and means of finding some breathing and pausing time in life…and I know what a hugely guilty pleasure it is. However, it is also a necessary guilty pleasure. There will ALWAYS be something else to do and 16 errands to run, just as there will ALWAYS be someone demanding your time and attention.
PLEASE think about trying out this Slow Whatever thing for a while. You may find that you start to enjoy life again – sure, you WILL get less done, but you just might enjoying being YOU a whole lot more.
You probably won’t be able to colour-code your pantry on a monthly basis, knit six pairs of mittens for elderly Chihuahuas each week or cook a three course meal every second day. But the upside is that your Facebook profile photo should stop looking quite so fraught and you shouldn’t find yourself up at 3am, the night before your bookclub meeting, cramming in the crib notes of the novel you were to busy to read.