“2016 already, can you believe it? Wow, where did the year go? Is it my imagination, or does each year speed by more quickly?” How many times in the past week have you overheard or participated in this conversation?
Maybe it’s just friendly chit chat with a grocery clerk or co-worker, the type of universal topic, like the weather, that puts us on common ground, but it also conveys our shared anxiety. We’re all keenly aware of the invisible timer, running in the background of our lives, counting down the moments left. And maybe we’re afraid of hitting 0:00 and discovering that we’ve wasted it, or missed out on something essential, or just weren’t paying attention, distracted by our busyness from what’s real and precious and true.
I haven’t shared anything here in the past few months. A new day job has demanded more time and energy, but that’s just an excuse. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about what I want to say. I don’t want to write just to put out content and add more noise. Instead, I’ve been asking how can I use this platform, my voice, to reach people in a meaningful way?
Clearly I love to travel. That’s why I started this blog. I want to see it all, experience it, soak it in, go, go, go. But maybe the place to start is by going nowhere. Acclaimed author, Pico Iyer, gave exactly this advice in a 2014 TED Talk, a seemingly surprising suggestion from a travel writer. Yet, as he explains:
I really began to feel that if you were lucky enough to walk around the candlelit temples of Tibet or to wander along the seafronts in Havana with music passing all around you, you could bring those sounds and the high cobalt skies and the flash of the blue ocean back to your friends at home, and really bring some magic and clarity to your own life. Except, as you all know, one of the first things you learn when you travel is that nowhere is magical unless you can bring the right eyes to it. You take an angry man to the Himalayas, he just starts complaining about the food. And I found that the best way that I could develop more attentive and more appreciative eyes was, oddly, by going nowhere, just by sitting still. And of course sitting still is how many of us get what we most crave and need in our accelerated lives, a break. But it was also the only way that I could find to sift through the slideshow of my experience and make sense of the future and the past. And so, to my great surprise, I found that going nowhere was at least as exciting as going to Tibet or to Cuba. And by going nowhere, I mean nothing more intimidating than taking a few minutes out of every day or a few days out of every season, or even, as some people do, a few years out of a life in order to sit still long enough to find out what moves you most, to recall where your truest happiness lies and to remember that sometimes making a living and making a life point in opposite directions. To view, listen to, or read the rest, click here.
When did you last take time to sit still? It seems almost impossible. I’m on the go from the moment the alarm sounds. I get myself and our daughter out the door, rush along the interstate, get those emails answered, give instant responses to instant messages, get those files reviewed in time for FedEx, get groceries, exercise (?), cook dinner, oversee homework and piano practice, bath time, story time, bed time. Sit still? I bought a Groupon for a massage four months ago, wrote a reminder to schedule it on a sticky note, stuck it on my monitor, and there it sits, four months later. Clearly, I need to take my own advice. But maybe that’s the trick to slowing down the ticking timer. Not just acknowledging the need to carve out time for stillness, but actually scheduling and doing it.
So, as we flip the calendar to a new year, book yourself a 10 minute vacation to nowhere. Set aside a few moments this week to do nothing but sit quietly. I’ll do it too. May we find refreshment, peace and perspective.