people like to offer advice.
generally the unsolicited variety (i am definitely one of those people, sorry). these words of wisdom generally come from a space of love, though, frequently, to the ears of the receiver, the sound comes in like a mosquito buzzing wildly. it’s annoying and unwanted.
ego leaps up to defend, creates distaste in the mouth, and usually, for the person just handed judgement, the immediate reaction will not be a deep hearted bow of gratitude.
when i played soccer my coach supported my athletic ability wholeheartedly. he encouraged me to be the player he knew i could be. admittedly, i did not have to work very hard. soccer came fairly easy to me. i am small, tough, muscular, agile, have great hand/eye/foot coordination and played with both left and right feet. i scored a lot of goals, had a hugely powerful kick, and generally dominated the field during play time. i thought very little of this and did not work to improve my skills past our twice weekly practices and games.
although my coach cheered for me during every game, i specifically remember an explosion he unleashed on me during practice one day.
one of our drills required half the team to circle up and the other half to stand inside the circle. the girls on the inside ran from person to person on the outside, receiving the ball and passing it back in a variety of ways. i loved this drill. one variety required us to meet an elevated ball with the laces of our cleats and barrel it back into the hands of the person who shot it to us.
our coach lined the outside ring and, as i took my turn reciving and passing, he remarked, “wow! powerful!”
i think i let that float to my seventeen year old head, as the next few turns i took with him sent the ball flying hard and fast right past him. fed up and tempermental by nature, he threw the ball down and screamed at me, thoroughly red in the face, “what’s the point in all that power if you have no control?”
at the time i didn’t understand why he suddenly exploded into such an impassioned state. what did i do wrong? i was powerful, was i not doing what he wanted?
years later, now at twenty-four and no longer a soccer player, i get what he was trying to say.
lately, multiple people have thrown the word ‘slow’ at me. as i played with a stranger’s hoop at a concert the other night, a guy looked at me and said, “slower. you gotta go slower.”
at burning man i got so caught up in the thrill of fire hooping i forgot to move more slowly and, of course, heard from the onlookers, “slower! go slower!”
my mom asks me to slow down all the time, tells me not to run around so frequently. my friends tell me it’s amazing how i balance all the things i balance on a daily basis. my body keeps getting sick, protesting my continuous flight. the road asks me to slow down while i drive. writer friends plead with me to read my poetry slower, so as to allow the words a chance to breathe.
if i listen closely, my heart asks the same of me. slow down. focus. listen. breathe.
initially, when i heard all these people telling me to slow down, my ego puffed up and swelled to life. why are they telling me to slow down? they don’t have the right to do that!
but, they do. and, just maybe, these messages keep coming to me for a reason.
maybe this is the season to pull back, to slow down, to come into the self, to evaluate.
i am a go getter by nature. i am fiery, aggressive, full of live and energy almost all the time. i love being outside, i love being social, i love being active. however, a body and a person cannot exist continuously jumping from one event to the other.
eventually, all the power an individual holds, will dissitegrate if slowness is not acknowledged or appreciated. because the fact is, there is pure magic and pure beauty in slowing down.
i am discovering this, ironically, slowly. taking the time to breathe in meditation. drawing a bath and relaxing. simply listening to the morning birds chirp. all of this brings me back to center instead of spiraling me out further.
when i slow down, i catch the little things, the small moments i otherwise might miss. like the half moon in the sky, or the glint of the setting sun on windows across the bay. perhaps i will avoid an accident. while working with my hoop, i find control comes from the very act of slowing down. i learn better when i move slowly. i have more time to evaluate a situation when i choose to not immediately react.
on my yoga mat, when i slow down, i directly feel the impact. controlled power comes to life. my poses feel smoother, more tight. i feel more connected to my body. as a consequence, i end up feeling more connected to my self. slowing down becomes something cherishable, not something to dread.
so, while my first reaction to the onslaught of advice of ‘slow down’ was anger and frustration and the overwhelming feeling of judgement and limitation, i think in the end i am finding a gorgeous lesson here.
slow down, and life will greet you with patience, grace, and surprises of all kinds. open up to the possibility of rooting down in a culture where all we are asked to do is more.
i think you’ll find the magic in the pause.