"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Legacy of Slow

This year I am focusing on slowing down even more. In the past years I have working on releasing myself from perfectionism and the unending drive to achieve and produce constantly. The results have been nothing short of transformative. I took a harried, exhausted, rather pissy attitude filled life and watched it re-emerge from these changes as a life of peace, joy, and beauty.  I used to think I valued, a perfect home, a look-everyone-how-much-I-can-do life, the unending need to be the best at everything, always. Now I realize those things were never my soul desires but expectations I put upon my over-burdened shoulders because unconsciously I was listening to the desires and demands of others. Walking away from that which did not stir my heart's passions, I have discovered those things I truly want. I want deep connections, to be present, truly and fully present, as much as possible, the freedom to explore my creativity and imagination. Ultimately, I desire to walk my unique and very personal path with freedom, confidence and sense of levity and adventure.

Achieving these goals has led me to slowing down even more. You are more likely to find me intently focused on a clipping from a dead plant, furiously sketching its likeness than scrubbing a toilet. I tend to eek out screeches and mistakes on my new soprano recorder rather than fixing my face up with makeup. I have traded in a multitude of social commitments to have the freedom to romp wildly through an open field with my children in a unplanned excursion. Life is very, very good.

But I found a side effect I never really expected, my children are following my lead and it is amazing.

The other day I took my 3 year old son to the zoo. He is everything your mind might conjure up when you think 3 year old boy. He lives with wild abandon. He throws his arms around your neck with love overflowing but you better be aware a truck may fly when his temper is sparked. He is a gorgeous hellion filled with a love of life and zest for living unmatched, to my knowledge, in any other soul I have met. But he has been affected and changed by this new life path we have chosen.

It was our day, just he and I. We go to the zoo with such regularity the docents and food service workers know us. We rarely have a plan or agenda and I was happy to follow his lead. His lead took us on a journey filled with quiet contemplation and wonder.

Two stops exemplify this best. The first was a visit to the Eastern Lowland gorillas. Due to the weather they were inside. I could not believe what I was seeing. For over 20 minutes my 3 year old son quietly sat by the glass and studied the apes. He spoke to them softly. Every once in a while he would break his silence to ask a questions or politely ask others to be quiet in the gorilla's home. Hey, there were signs all over asking people to do just that. Otherwise he sat and raptly experienced those moments. His intensity and focus amazed me.

Before we left for the day we went to visit his favorite animal, baby Kenzi. Baby Kenzi is in the above picture. We have followed her story and visited her with regularity since she was born last spring. When we arrived at her habitat we were excited to see all the female elepants out together. Once again Logan hunkered down to really study and savor those moments. He commented on the elephants behavior. Kenzi is getting feisty and plays quite a bit with her big sister. Groups and families stopped behind us, looked for a few seconds and moved on. I remember one woman said after about 20 seconds, "Well, we've seen her, let's go." All the while I sat and watched my son really engage with the moment. It took my breath away just a little bit.

I set out to break myself of the instant gratification habit and fixation. I wanted to walk away from the chaotic world filled with noise and busyness for the sake of being busy and find a life filled with idea and experiences real and authentic. I believe I have found that life. What I didn't realize is the amazing affect my choices would have on my children. I am even more committed to this way of life now that I know these consequences.

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