One of the most vividly contrasting scenes in the Sound of Music is towards the end when the Von Trapp family is hiding in the church from the Nazis. While the soldiers are speedily pursuing there is fast-paced chase music which sets everyone on edge due to the tenseness of the situation. Then, as the nuns are summoned to the front gate, the music changes, and they purposefully, with great effort, endeavor to slow their pace, slow their speaking, slow their movement to indicate peace and tranquility and calm.
We could learn a lot from a nun. Even in the midst of haste and hurry, the best way to find peace may be to manufacture a little of it by slowing our pace and slowing our heartrates, and "pretending" we are calm. During these times in our lives when the winds may blow and storms may rage, we find ourselves in the middle of it all, struggling for some type of reprieve or relief. Generally we find that the answers do not come as we expend our energy furiously treading water; we only get more anxious and more tired and more desperate. Perhaps the most radical move is to gently turn onto one's back and peacefully, slowly, begin to swim toward the shore and remove ourselves from the situation. We purposefully slow our heartrate; change our plan; recognize what our body and soul are telling us.
I picked up a book today. It has been within arm's reach of my desk for the past month, unnoticed and untouched. Until today. After calling my name to pick it up, its counsel rang with such truth to me. It spoke of this conscientiously slowing down life's pace; of how as a society we are driven to accomplish, to please, to produce, to perfect, all at the mercy of our peace.
The book reminds us of the wisdom in doing fewer things, while taking the time to make the most of those we choose to do. It encourages us to "walk a little slower and notice a little more, drive a little slower and be more aware of what is around you. You will only lose a few seconds, and you will start to win the battle against haste and hurry."
I believe we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, but not to the degree that "anxious" becomes "anxiety". We needn't run faster than we have strength.
My goals for the new year are to walk slowly and think slowly, trying for more awareness and perspective--to see more, feel more, and to look for more quality and less quantity in my activities, my relationships, and my goals.
My favorite quote from Dr. Bridell's Logical and Rational and Poetic and Beautiful and Completely Guaranteed Eat-Half Diet for ALL your Appetites book, and what I intend to take to heart is this:
"Let that kiss for your loved one take a little longer. Look into a person's eyes and hold the hand a second longer when you greet someone. Sit down and take a look around you for a moment before you start a piece of work....Slow thinking is intuitive and creative. Slowing down and giving ideas times to simmer at their own pace yields rich and subtle insights, leading to lateral thinking and serendipity."
Sounds like a chance I am willing to take.