I’ve noticed that I often carry an undercurrent of urgency.
An underlying energy of unsettledness, restlessness.
It’s soft, subtle, but can also be so obvious and overpowering that there’s no mistaking it.
It’s the softer kind, though, that I’ve been paying closer attention to. The one that’s there in moments when I slow down.
There’s a tree outside my house that I say hello to every morning. When I get home from my walk or run, I put my hands on either side of her trunk and rest my forehead on her. I say, “Hi. Good morning. You’re wonderful.” And I take a few breaths to soak her in.
At least, that’s the intention. I’ve noticed that the initial five deep breaths I used to take have become three, and that those three have become faster and shallower—as if I’m simply rushing to get through them.
I’ve noticed when I do yoga, sometimes, I rush through my breaths there too. I have it in my mind that I should take a certain number of breaths in each pose, so I’ve seen myself, at times, exhaling faster, more aggressively to release them more quickly, rather than breathing deeply into them, lingering with them, being present with them (which is the whole point of yoga!).
These are just two examples.
I don’t like this, this energy. This restlessness. This “hidden” urge to do and pursue. This part that is always pushing or thinking it needs to push or move onto the next thing. This energy that makes me feel “unsafe” if I’m not doing or pursuing. Because, yes, I realized, the energy propelling this is fear.
The energy that drives this subtle restlessness is soft and almost imperceptible.
I think many of us feel this way. We feel uncomfortable with slowing down, with taking it easy—with allowing ourselves space to just be. We feel guilty if we’re not “working on our goals” or doing something “productive.” It’s conscious, yes, but it’s also unconscious.
It’s a symptom of the culture and society we come from. There’s an ever-present underlying energy telling us that to be valuable, worthy, even safe, we have to work hard, give it our all, and “crush our goals,” or someone else will beat us to it.
And what happens if that happens? If we lose out to that person? Our lives will fall apart. We’ll fail and we’ll never get anywhere and we won’t be safe or be able to provide for ourselves or survive. We’ll be left behind. Everything will go wrong and we’ll never be okay.
I don’t think most of us think about this to this degree on a conscious level, but it’s there lurking in the outskirts of our awareness.
All the time.
We just feel antsy and uncomfortable if we’re not “doing something.” We feel like we should be doing something, anything, but sitting still.
But is this the kind of life we want to live? Is this the energy we want driving us? Is this how we want to decide how we live our days?
I don’t. I want conscious choice and intentional decisions.
I want to move from my heart. I want to go where my soul leads me.
I want to rest when I feel like it and work hard too.
I want a balance—a balance that stems from living in alignment with my heart, my truth.
I don’t always want to do “nothing.” I’m ambitious. I have visions and goals and dreams I want to achieve. I have things I want to study and work toward and do. And I like doing and working toward those things.
But I want to do those things in a way that allows softness, ease, and soulful grace.
I want slowness and time to linger and breathe.
I want peace and calm.
I want to be present in the present moment.
I want presence.
Last night I sat out looking at the azalea we have in our yard. I wanted to watch the way the golden sunlight of the setting sun was making these flowers glow. One, because it was beautiful. Two, because I know this tree doesn’t bloom all summer, and I wanted to appreciate her and soak her in while I have the chance. She’s beautiful.
I stood near her. I touched her leaves. I took a few photos. I looked on in awe.
I sat in a chair and looked at her from a distance for a few minutes.
Then, I had a feeling I didn’t want to sit out there anymore. I wanted to do something else.
It wasn’t the blanket restlessness or unease that sometimes comes with being still—it was a call from my heart. These moments had been nice; she’d liked sitting out there, but there were other things she wanted to do, too.
It’s not about always being soft or slow or still.
It’s not about always “doing nothing.”
It’s about being in tune with our heart—with what we really want.
With what our soul wants and needs.
It’s about moving from that space, honoring space.
It’s about being true to ourselves in each and every moment.
That’s the kind of life I want to live.