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Sometimes I feel like I was born too late.
This world, with all its magic and mayhem, feels too fast-paced for me. Perhaps it’s the middle space I’m in—I’m middle-aged, in the middle of raising kids who are in the middle of becoming adolescents, somewhere in the murky midst of perimenopause. It’s a time of too much, of transformation, of time ticking.
Often, I long for life to slow down. I romanticize about living in a simpler time, in closer harmony with the earth, with fewer screens and more quiet adventures.
Our tech-swollen world gives us the opposite message. How can we slow down when a zillion notifications are clamoring for our attention? When the news of the world butts in, instant and often? When our empathy is spread paper-thin?
There is wisdom, though, in moving more slowly.
Last week, I was talking to a writer friend about slowing down. She’s been in an intense cycle of growth, and was planning to take some time to go to the ocean. To slow down. I knew just what she meant; she needed to step outside of the frantic, prescribed pace and soak in the lessons of the ocean. In the slow breath of tides.
The weekend before last, I planted some flower seeds. I’m new to gardening and wary; patience is not my strong suit.
As I placed the cover on the little makeshift greenhouse where the seedlings could nest, I found myself already looking to see if anything was happening, changing, growing. I knew logically I was being nutty—it would take days, at least, to notice any growth. I realized how trained we are to expect quick results, dinging notifications, drive-thru revolutions.
But seeds take time to sprout and grow just like the moon takes time to pull the tides. Seeds need soil and stillness. Just because the seeds I planted didn’t instantly stretch into a beanstalk reaching into the clouds didn’t mean that nothing was happening.
On the contrary; so much can happen when we allow ourselves to prescribe our own pace.
It’s okay to slow down.
It’s okay to press pause on productivity.
It’s okay to ignore social media.
It’s okay to listen to the sound of our own sweet breath.
It’s okay to make this shift before the universe hammers it into us with a health crisis.
It’s okay to follow the lead of nature, which rarely rushes and doesn’t camouflage or only show off its highlight reels.
It’s okay to sit and soak in the wisdom of trees. To watch moss creep or rainwater seep.
It’s okay to know what we need, regardless of what the world tells us we should. It’s okay to know we need warmth and ocean hush, moonlight and pine trees, or books and bike rides.
It’s been a few days now, and the seeds I planted are beginning to sprout. They’re tiny and tender, stretching toward sunlight. Watching them unfurl reminds me of what might happen when we reduce our pace, when we allow ourselves to live in the conditions in which we thrive.
What are your ideal conditions for thriving?