“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other day, I had a full day all to myself to do anything as I please.
It was such a big deal for me – my weekends were dedicated to work, and I spent the rest of the week juggling preparations for the weekend, editing stuff on the side, and social commitments.
So what did I do on my big day off?
Well I wanted to do as much work as I could so I would not have a back log for the week but things turned out differently.
I walked. And I ran. And I learned the art of taking time.
I visited my alma mater to get documents I needed for my official employment (hoorah!). It was supposed to be a quick errand – fill out the request form, pay in the next window, and then come back for it when it is ready. Thing is, I forgot that it was enrollment period so the registrar’s office was swarming with people. My first thought was: how do I get ahead of the line and get out of here fast?
To my relief, there was a separate line for alumni requesting documents. I happily filled out the request form and searched for the cashier’s window. There was none. There was only a sign on the wall that says, “Pay at the New Cashier’s Office” with a map of where it moved to.
I sucked in my breath. I would have to walk, in this heat, all the way there. Needless to say, I already felt grumpy as I made my way out of the building.
As I did, I came to a family walking as well. I could have overtaken, but since I chose to conserve my energy, I slowed down and fell behind them. They noticed me and smiled. They were talking pretty loudly so I could not help but overhear. The daughter, whom I’m guessing was an incoming freshman, was pointing out one of the University’s buildings to her mom and telling her that it was there that she and her father got lost in. The dad chuckled to himself, and said it was a fond memory of his. The daughter agreed. The mom placed an arm around her daughter and told her how happy she is that she made it to the University.
I, too, was smiling.
It was such a sweet, short tidbit of a conversation but it somehow lightened my mood. OK, so the sun was not that bad. There were so many trees that there was shade everywhere. In fact, it was such a beautiful sight – the wide streets lined up with trees. OK so it’s not that late yet into the day, I could get there by 25 minutes or even less. I started to breathe again. I slowed down.
Fast forward to my run late that afternoon in another campus.
It was about that time I was circling back to my starting point. I was running so I could get back home to freshen up just in time before my dinner with my boyfriend. It was an empty street, and I was a giddy runner delighting in all the free space… till I had to slow down because there were two people in the path. Again, I wanted to cut to their front but suddenly there were a stream of cars pouring out of the campus and I had no choice but to stay and fall behind them.
They looked at me, and I thought they would make room for me to pass or at least, speed up. But they didn’t. Instead, they slowed down even more. Again, they were talking pretty loudly so as I slowed my run to a jog, I couldn’t help but overhear.
Guy: So, I’m pretty happy with the way I was all productive today…
Girl: Me, too. I’m happy for you… Long day…
Guy: Ya, but productive. Makes you hungry, all that work.
Girl: (Laughs shyly) Ya.
Guy: …You want to grab dinner somewhere?
Girl: (Smiling) Sure. I’d love that.
And they picked up their pace and made room for me. But my desire to hurry home was not there anymore. I, too, was beaming like I was asked out on a first “date.” It was so cute, the way they were all awkward, and shy, and timid… all the steps it took when you first danced with love. It was such a beautiful sight to see. I decided to slow down, and walk the rest of the way home.
Slowing down. The world say, pick up your pace, move faster, keep up. But that Monday I learned the art of slowing down. And it is such a beautiful art. Taking time. Taking time to talk, to reflect, to remember. Taking time to know, to take risks, to fall in love, and fall in love again. What we miss out on in being so busy along with everyone else are the little things that make life truly worthwhile.
What about you? When was the last time you slowed down?