Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
What happens when you step off the treadmill? When you leave the ratrace? When you let go of the ‘I must, I must, I must’ mantra?
In the past few days, I’ve had few ‘musts’ on my plate. I’ve had two children to look after, to feed, nurture and bring to school. I had my car checked, and got in touch with a few people. It’s been very still in comparison to my usual life.
My usual life involves a lot of running from morning to evening, and still feeling like I’m not doing enough. It’s stressful and exhausting, and at the same time, a great way to run away from myself, as I’ve written before. Now that I’ve deliberately stopped running, I notice something peculiar: I’m slowing down.
It’s not just that I do less in a day, that I take time for a walk or rest my eyes from time to time; it’s that I actually seem to move more slowly as well. Things take twice as long. I catch myself being unable to get stuff done, such as cleaning up my dining room table. I sleep 10 hours a night. If anything, I’ve gotten even more sensitive to stress and sounds than I was when I was still taking advantage of the adrenaline rush that dictated my day-to-day rhythm.
It’s strange, this quiet and stillness. I don’t remember ever being so keenly aware of it before. It feels like a deep, intense time of rest, almost like hibernating, in which every distraction is one too many.
At the same time, some things come to the foreground as being more important: being there for a friend who lost her father, making time to play with my children every afternoon, and writing that poem every single day, as a way to show up for myself.
Without work and with the focus on my own process, my world invariably gets smaller, kind of like right after a baby’s born or after a significant loss. I find myself getting selfish, and asking for what I want or need with less consideration than before. My therapist tells me this is a necessary swinging back from going into the other extreme for too long. She also says it’s temporary.
I’m allowing myself this time of quiet, before the holiday of next week with two children full-time at home (and very little actual quiet).
For now, it feels just right.