Slowing Down is Hard

 Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Slowing down is hard.

When I was young, I was taught that doing something fast meant that I was successful. The more I did and the faster I did it, the more I was praised. I learned quickly that overachieving on a deadline was GOOD. And I also learned that anything done slowly was BAD. That doing something slow was not worth doing. Slow meant "lazy and unfocused". 

I've been living in my new home for 6 months. December 13, 2017 marked my first full day in the new house. At that time, I thought I'd have my art studio up and running in a matter of weeks. I thought I'd have a final draft of my new play done by February. I thought I'd have a million and one things done by June. Things have gone differently than I had planned. 

I see now that my expectations were... in a word... silly. The purpose of this move was to slow down and to discover my real pace. I knew I needed to slow down, but I didn't know how to do it.

 

How do you interrupt a lifetime of FAST habit energy?

 

"Frenetic, yet productive" was my norm in the big city. And it was normal because everyone around me had embraced the same fast pace as "normal". Out here in rural Eastern Oregon, things move slowly. I moved my family here to partake of this slower pace and the peace I imagined it would bring.

The journey of the past six months can be encapsulated in one sentence: Allow the natural pace of your environment to inform your own pace. Eastern Oregon is working on me. I've resisted and allowed my inner editor to hurl accusations: "You lazy idiot. Why aren't you working? You're missing opportunities left and right! How will you stay afloat if you're not making money every moment?" But the natural pace of this serene place is stronger than my old habits. SLOW is chipping away at the walls. SLOW has opened the windows and invited a breeze. SLOW has turned on the taps and allowed cool water to flow. 

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I don't have a final draft of my new play. I don't have a completed art studio. Which means I don't have completed art pieces. I haven't met commission deadlines. I haven't delivered the goods. What I DO have is peace. Peace doesn't put food on the table or pay my electricity bill, but it does allow me to feel whole and to express gratitude.

SLOW is helping me to come home to myself in a way I never considered possible. SLOW is allowing me to say no to opportunities in exchange for time - that most precious commodity. SLOW is allowing me to help my neighbors. SLOW is allowing me to learn the patterns of local birds. SLOW is allowing me to notice my inner yearnings. And most important of all -  SLOW is allowing me to prime the pump of my own creativity. 

Even in the face of my own internal resistance, I can feel the shift. By embracing SLOW, I am investing not only in the quality of my day-to-day life, but also in the quality of my creative work. SLOW is ultimately allowing me to be more connected to the work I produce. The work is not yet ready for an audience, but I can already feel that the work is of higher quality than that which came before. 

Perhaps that is a the real lesson here. Embracing SLOW will actually help me to achieve MORE in the end. 

 Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon. 

Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon.