Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learning to Slow Down

"Life if the fast lane sure can make you lose your mind" - The Eagles

Since my last posting more than a month ago, I have been working on learning to slow down a bit, to enjoy the world around me, and to not let the little things in life get to me. I have not always succeeded, but I am getting better at it.

When my aunt told me the story about my father and the real reason behind the breakup of my parents' marriage, a huge weight that I had been carrying for more than 40 years began to lift. As it did, an inner sense of calm and of peace began to develop.

I find myself much more aware of little things: sunsets, cloud formations, the moon, even something as mundane as the fact that dishes need to be put into the dishwasher. With that awareness has also come the realization (always present, I think, but now more developed) that some things are not worth worrying about.

I worry a good deal less about making mistakes at work or about getting everything done on time. Not because I don't care, but because I realize that I can only do what I can do and no more. I have decided that I can only control what I can control and that the rest is not worth getting upset about. As a result, my stress level has diminished considerably.

I realize that my job is never going to be a dream job and also that I will likely never rise above my level, and I am okay with that. My job is what it is: food on the table, gas in the car, and a means toward an end goal of being able to one day retire, buy a motorhome, and travel a little bit.

I have had several people who know me say that I seem happier these days. And I am. Having some answers about my past allowed me to move out from under its shadow. I still have some work to do, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is getting brighter. I am also no longer mistaking it for an oncoming train.

Don't get me wrong; little things still have the power to irritate me at times. A car pulling out in front of me or going around me only to slow down in order to make a turn or my son talking during a program I'm trying to watch or changing the subject when I ask him a question, these things all still irritate me. But the irritation does not seem to last as long and sometimes does not materialize at all.

I also find that I am no longer in such a hurry to get wherever I'm going. I thought about this the other day at work as I was watching people hurry past me in the halls. I thought to myself: what's the rush? That person will get where they're going 15 or 20 seconds sooner than I will reach the same spot. The work will still be there when I arrive, only I'll get there more relaxed and in a calmer state than the person in such a hurry. And there is a good deal to be said for that.