Life in the Slow Lane: Top 10 Ways to Savor Life

Nick Hall photography

Nick Hall photography

Joseph Campbell once said that everyone thinks they are seeking the meaning of life, but what we truly seek as human beings is the experience, the rapture, of being alive.

One September afternoon four year old Finn and I were sprawled in the car while mama and daddy shopped in the grocery store. Baby India was practicing walking in the back seat using me as a prop, and 3-year-old Poppie was asleep in her car seat, mouth open, exhausted. She was growing a mile a minute and if she wasn’t running and tripping over her ever growing legs and feet, she was snoozing. Finn lay across my lap in the warm sun while we waited.
“Nana, say that thing to me,” he said lazily.
“What thing?” I asked puzzled.
“You know, poor little thing in that language.”
I laughed. When I was in 7th grade I took Spanish and for some random reason I never forgot a chunk of dialogue we were made to memorize: How sad! Poor little thing, I hope you get better soon. I used the phrase whenever the kids skinned their knees, bumped their heads, or were denied something and threw a fit.
Que lastima, pobricito, ojala que se mejore pronto,” I said in the soft sing-song cadence of comfort understood in all languages.
Finn closed his eyes and smiled. I stroked his hair.
“Say it again, Nana.”
The sun was warm, the children were near, and I breathed the moment in as the world paused on its axis. It is one of my best memories of summer, carved between grocery shopping and running errands—tasks we are never exempt from. But what made it special was the climate of ease. There was nothing to do but wait, and instead of the mind galloping ahead to what was left to do, we allowed ourselves to unfold to the moment and whatever it held. It was the rapture of being alive with people I loved.Slowdown

We are a busy culture. When people ask how we are doing we answer unthinkingly crazy busy as if it was a merit badge of living, something to offer to explain the rush and drive of heedless lives. Small children are voracious energy fields that gobble up our time and attention. There are responsibilities we must shoulder to keep hearth and home together, but when the experience of life gets to the point of exhaustion, of soul deprivation, and we fall into bed at night with racing minds of all that is undone, things need to change.

Where is the rapture?

It is in time, which is infinite and unspools forever. The key is what we put into our time that matters. There are hours enough in a day for everything we deem important. In fact we have a way of making time for the things we find important—Facebook, reading, extracurricular activities for our kids—but ask yourself what do you find truly, deeply essential?

What are your intentions? To create a meaningful family life? Make those you love feel special in your company? Get enough sleep or exercise? What are you doing to make that happen? Signing your child up for one more activity, or adding yet another volunteer obligation to your limited day may not be the answer, in fact it could be part of the problem—we get sucked into the cultural expectation that we are BUSY, there is nothing we can do about it, that’s life we think with a shrug.

It is your and your family’s life. No one else has to live it but you.

Here’s help: 10 ways to slow down and savor life. They can add time in a day to uncover the rapture of being alive, even if it is in the backseat of a car in a grocery store parking lot.

1. Resist the temptation to add more activities to your family’s life, no matter how wonderful it sounds
2. Limit technology. TV, social media, and computer games are time stealers
3. Learn the joy of single-tasking instead of multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time instead of 3. The reduction of stress is miraculous
photo4. Let the house fall into disorder when good things are happening. We have a tile in our house that says This house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. They are good words to live by
5. Listen, really listen, to those in your company instead of being distracted of what is next and not being fully present. A little true listening time goes a long long way in relationships
6. Allow an extra 15 minutes to errands, deadlines, or undertakings. This will save you from accidents, missed appointments from traffic, and give extra minutes for the hiccups and detours from getting out the door
7. Love your partner. Have a regular date night and spend time together alone. You are the foundation of the family
8. Breathe. A deep breath when you are rushed or stressed is like rebooting your body-device. Exhale completely, every single part of the inhale. You will face what is next with a different attitude
9. Make time every day for your family to be outdoors. Walk the dog, walk to school, look for autumn leaves to press. Trees, grass, puddles, and paths have a way of returning us to what is important
10. Be present to the moment. Be aware of what is happening right in front of you! Not what has happened in the past or what is ahead

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Comments

  1. Virginia Beall says:

    Thanks so much for this reminder! This wisdom will go a long way to keeping us all happy and healthy.
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving Nancy!

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