The most hilarious thing about this piece I have been working on is the sheer amount of time it is taking me to finish. Oh, you’re talking about slow? I’ll. Show. You. Slow. Sometimes. My. Blog. Talks. Back. To. Me.
Dear Anyone Who Thinks I Sit Down And Write A Blog Post In Fifteen Minutes,
Absolutely not true!
I’m certain the world is moving a little faster around me everyday and I’m also certain every generation has said that as they grow older since Adam and Eve. I imagine Noah on the deck of the ark telling his children of the days when he was their age and how they did not have new-fangled contraptions like boats and things of that nature.
I imagine Pa Ingalls playing the fiddle and then sitting with Half-Pint by the fire, weaving stories of a childhood where they played music with nothing more than spit, a blade of grass, and a piece of dirt.
You know my grandparents rolled their eyes at our Atari and our MTV.
My declaration that the world is moving faster than ever before is not new. But seriously, Pa. We have the internet.
It seems my soul is slowing at the same rate the world is speeding. When I try to keep up, I feel like a kite in a hurricane.
In some ways it’s incongruent – I talk fast, I walk fast, I can finish tasks quickly when I need to.
But when it comes to my inner life, experiences have to sink fully in before I have an opinion on them. Lines in books I read have to be read over and over before I can figure out why they made me cry. Conversations have to be sifted through over a period of days, even a week, before I’m certain if I was fully myself in them or not.
Lately I am noticing I’m taking even longer than usual to process events and experiences, requiring broader margins and more white space to consider their impact and my desire.
I am a hard worker who meets deadlines and can usually finish tasks when they need finishing. I am also a slow processor who has to allow conversations, ideas, and other influences to marinate before I can grab hold of them.
These two true statements fight.
What is good for my inner health is often frustrating for my work.
But I haven’t always been accepting of this pace. I have tried to discipline the slow out of me. I have read blog posts and books on how to be productive, how to write even faster, and how to do other things I’m not naturally great at. I have learned to do more in less amount of time, to focus in less than ideal situations, to finish, ship, and deliver. Sometimes I have succeeded, at what cost I’m not yet sure.
Productivity skills have helped me meet important deadlines and release unnecessary perfectionism.
The problems come when I foolishly try to apply these same skills to my inner life. The soul and the schedule don’t follow the same rules.
Today I’m preaching myself the Gospel, remembering my slowness is not a fault or a sin, but fighting it might be.
Because once I finally grab hold, I will take the conversation, the idea, and the influence all the way in, allow it all to move and shape my thoughts and my actions. These slow-cooked thoughts will influence how I love, how I think, how I write. They will fill up holes of misunderstanding, smoothing some of the rounded question marks into straight up exclamation points.
As much as I sometimes wish I could post a bulletin to the world, announcing a celestial time out, I know that isn’t the answer. Many are in a season of speed, a time of movement, of action, and go. But that is not where I am now. And I cannot wait for the world to stop to embrace my permission for slow.
So here’s to you, my fellow slow-processors. Take the long way home. Embrace the silence to consider. Give yourself permission to think, to listen, to be sure.
Maybe you are like me and you know you aren’t really listening. I realize that I rarely listen, really listen, to the stories of the people I love.
I can rattle off plenty of good reasons for this. I don’t have the time or the energy or the attention to focus in 100 percent. I’m distracted, rushed, over-scheduled, under-rested. My plate is full, my head is cobwebby, my children distract me, I recycled the field trip permission slip, I have problems of my own to solve, thank you very much.
Mostly, though, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that the real reason I don’t listen is fear. I am afraid to sidle up close to such rawness, afraid to enter into a place where words can’t possibly suffice and problems can’t be fixed with a three-step plan. I’m afraid I might see myself –my own vulnerability, loss, loneliness, disappointment, despair — reflected in my friend’s face.
It’s hard. I won’t sugar-coat it. It’s hard to be fully present for another person in their pain, even a person you love, even a person you’ve known for a long time. But I have learned something important: I learned that to listen, really listen, is a gift.
A gift both to give and to receive.
So, here's to waiting before we move, pausing before we speak, and taking a week to cross of our day list.
Here’s to shuffling our feet, playing on the floor, and staring out the window if we need to.
Here’s to listening to our questions, sitting in the darkness, and letting our experiences do their deep work within us.
Here’s to a long, deep breath.
And if you write a post that feels like a ridiculous mess this week? And if that post took you weeks to finish? Go ahead and publish it now. Don’t let your slowness boss you. Embrace it and learn it, but don’t let it force perfection. Let slow do what slow does best: nourish, strengthen, and hold.
Here’s to deep roots, deep listening, strong ties, and slow art.