We're running out of time! Oh no! Someone call White House! What should we do? What should we do? Buy a slower watch? Join a cult?
Beats me. Really. I don't know what we should do with our time. Although, it seems like people who have a pursuit of some kind create more enjoyable lives for themselves than those who don't.
I write; for me, it has a deeply meaningful quality. The time I spend writing isn't wasted, even when it seems difficult or uninspiring. These are just words, but for me, they're a reality. Hurray me.
There's a quote I like from the poet Theodore Roethke, "Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste."
I take this to mean that making art, or appreciating art, can bring us closer to...oh, hold up, you didn't think I was going to say something profound, did you? Ha! Of course you didn't, you're much too savvy for that.
I don't really know what Roethke meant by this, it's not a precise statement. But so what? I can still ponder on it. Actually, I like the end of that sentence best. Let's cut out the Art bit, for time's sake.
Undoing the damage of haste. There. That has a nice ring to it. Now, what might that look like in "the real world"?
It could be just taking a short walk for no good reason. It could be putting on some music and doing the dishes. Or refusing to do stupid bullshit you're not obligated to do. Or it could mean not going to that super-cool party and working on a creative project instead. Perhaps undoing the damage of haste is a choice, a matter of taste. I'll do this in this way instead of that in that way.
Personally, after years of charging through life like a liquored-up rhino at a charity function, I've come to appreciate the value of slowing down, regardless of what I'm engaged in. Reeling it back, back into the senses. Luxuriating in the present situation. Showing up to what's actually going on, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so.
Below is my favorite technique for slowing down, while getting back into the body. From there it's much easier to...what?
Faces aren't set in stone, despite what your local grump seems to demonstrate to the contrary. Practice feeling resentful every day for a decade and see what kind of mask, I mean face, you end up with. I wouldn't recommend it.
We normally don't think of our faces as carrying tension, but oh baby, they do. As you no doubt know, being such visual creatures, humans draw tons of information from the facial cues of others. How we face the world, the face we "in-habit", effects how others (you know: them) think of and interact with us, and more importantly, how we think and interact with ourselves.
Break apart tensions in the face and you begin to break apart your ideas about your face, among other things.
That's quite an assertion. Personally, I'm very much in the, "Yeah, yeah, cut the crap and show me already" camp. The best argument in the world doesn't mean much if you can't take it out in the world and apply it. I hate convincing, opinions, and endless yammering (although I'm ashamed to admit I sometimes enjoy arguing, especially if it's against a position I agree with). So boring. Your direct experience is your most valuable guide:
Five minutes is all it takes to verify for yourself. Over time, doing the face stretch for five minutes a day will build permanent pathways from tension to relaxation in your body.
You can drop your chronic feelings of over-preparedness and background emergency (I'm talking to everyone else, of course, of course), and get a clearer picture of what the hell is really going on around you, and what you would really enjoy doing.
Slow down. Stretch your face. Do it each morning for a week (35 minutes! my god!) as an experiment and see what happens. Or not. Face it, you don't need to.
Nathan Woods, editor/overlord