Author Post by: Christie Lambert
“Live deep instead of fast.” -Henry Canby
Earlier this week, in the middle of the day, I took a walk. It was the first time in a while that I had put aside my to-do list and schedule so that I could go outside and meander around the neighborhood. I had no agenda for this walk, no exercise goal in mind, no podcast in my ears. I just walked, stopping whenever I spotted something interesting. I took deep breaths, the scent full of all things green and growing. I looked closer at the tiny lavender flowers sprouting in patches near the woods, listened to the bird-choir in the branches above me, watched a blue jay flying from tree to tree. I was happy for the trees; no longer were they winter-bare, but clothed in thick leaves. I spotted the first magnolia blooms, lovely in their simplicity, adorning glossy leaves of the deepest green.
By the end of my wandering, I was more awake to my life than I’d been when I began…and I knew it was because I’d chosen to wholly inhabit those walking-moments. For a little while, I’d gotten away from the cycle of busy-ness and the endless rabbit-hole distractions to truly take notice of the world around me, to say hello again to my favorite trees and to Spring’s baby birds (and although I can’t prove it, I’m pretty sure the birds sang hello right back to me). I’d left my house a little cranky and out of sorts, but I came home smiling again.
Do you ever have trouble with time? I do. There are days when it is unruly and untethered, quick to slip away from my grasp. Hours will pass by in a blur of get-this-done and evening will find me slightly stunned and wondering how an entire day has already vanished. I’ve often been left feeling unsatisfied and yearning to have felt something more than a checked-off to-do list that would only have to be repeated the next day.
I’ve been learning for a while now that this dis-ease of mine comes from a rush of doing without being.
This is a big part of why I need to write: the act of writing reminds me to be in the moment instead of trying to get to the next one. Writing teaches me to take notice. To write a scene or even to write the memories of my day, I must be present. Writing invites me to become rich in details, asks me to walk slowly through moments using all of my senses to experience it, helps me to look at the world with eyes focused on remember this.
It’s the practice of writing that reminds me to not just look at the world, but to try to see it…to not just hear the bustle and the constant noise, but to try to listen to what people are saying beneath the surface, to what my own heart is saying.
I am still learning to do this, to stay present even in the ordinary do-the-dishes, schedule-appointments, clean-the-toilets, wait-in-school-pick-up-lines moments. It’s little changes that help me, decisions in how I abide within my own life. Instead of constantly feeding my brain with that ceaseless stream of new information or entertainment that’s always available to us these days (and can so quickly entangle my mind), sometimes I need to choose silence, sometimes prayer. Sometimes I need to choose beautiful music that’s good for my soul. Sometimes I need to stop worrying about my kids getting their homework done or their rooms clean and just sit to have unhurried conversations with them. Sometimes I need to take the time to look for beauty in unlikely places; when I do, I nearly always find it.
If I am taking notice instead of just trying to get through my day…if I am positioning my heart toward being as I am going about my life, I have found that I am more grateful, more satisfied when the sun begins to sink into the western sky. Time doesn’t feel like it has somehow left me behind because I’ve invested myself into the moments I’ve been given.
So if I could tell you anything today, I think it would be this: take time to just be for a while, to sink into a moment, to take notice of your life. It can feel so hard, sometimes, to slow down…but I believe that it is good for us. I believe the practice of being present will flow into the rest of our hours, helping us to become more wholly ourselves in every part of our lives.
If you’re like me, maybe you’ll take a long walk or write a few pages in your journal. Maybe you can pick up your guitar and feel the smooth slide of the strings beneath your fingers or wander around an art museum. Perhaps you’ll slice fresh apples and make a pie, letting the scent of cinnamon fill your kitchen. You could sit with a hot cup of tea and let its warmth soothe your senses beneath a sky full of stars. Maybe you’ll find your moment in sitting with someone you love, memorizing their faces all over again as you listen to their words. Maybe you can lie on your bed and listen to an entire album from start to finish. Maybe you can tend a spot of earth, planting a seed just to watch it grow.
Whatever it is that may bring delight to your heart…give yourself the time to experience that moment. Slow down; pay attention. You never know what unexpected beauty you’ll see when you do.