Slow down: life is a journey, not a race
What is your speed?” I asked this suddenly of my husband, Bill, as we drove by a road sign showing the speed of our car.
He thought for a moment: “What an interesting question! I think I am in idle right now.”
“What about you?” he asked me with measured curiosity.
In the last two years I have reduced my speed drastically.
For many years I lived at the fastest speed possible. I was drifting on sharp turns and was breathless from the landscapes flying by. I naively thought that my fierce Siberian energy and indomitable life forces would last for a very long time, possibly for the rest of my life.
I enjoyed living at the maximum limit. I loved to jump on to a train in the evening so I could conduct a workshop starting early the next morning in another city.
I was happy to fly thousands of miles for a conference, or even a date: yesterday, Moscow, tomorrow Singapore, in four days New York.
Ten seminars in ten days in ten different cities? “No problem!” I laughed, pulling out my travel bag.
If earlier my speed was like a race car with the pedal pressed to the floor, now it corresponds well to the speed limit in Bermuda. I travel through my life calmly. I don’t have the physical strength to push myself relentlessly without stopping for rest. I don’t want to do it to my body any more. It is harsh and irresponsible. I have to save and preserve my energy so it will last longer. I learnt this the hard way, collapsing for days after a whirlwind schedule that may or may not have been worth it.
I learnt one of the most important skills to avoid burning out in this endless race. I realised that I would not have time to do everything, that in this self-imposed competition, the most important aspects might be lost; the pure joy of life, the ability to appreciate and stay in a beautiful moment. I simply didn’t have time to fully engage the world around me.
I cannot think if I ever looked at the clouds above Moscow. I would not even consider it, the brief moment it takes to look up and see the sky. Now, I have learnt to stop and gaze at the turquoise ocean and rolling waves, to watch the different shapes of clouds, to listen to the sound of the wind in the casuarina trees, to feel the sun touch my face. I also began to notice and consider my feelings and desires. I learnt to find time for myself, for my body and my soul.
My life is not a race I have to win. Rather, it is an incredible journey and I am here to appreciate every step on its path.
This is a journey of exploration and I cannot afford to get lost. I see now that I will rush around aimlessly until I recognise that the world is speaking to me in the language of beauty, and I must make time to listen and look and answer.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at ninalondon.com
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