When I was young, I hurried with a kind of frenzy, everywhere I went.
I was ready to ‘get there.’
I had zero patience for anything akin to waiting.
Screw taking the scenic route.
Where’s the sonic boom version of life?
Where’s the Concord when you need it?
I rushed and tumbled, sure I’d miss out if I wasn’t galloping through life.
I was in the drive-thru lane, barely able to cool my jets long enough to wait for my coffee and cruller.
This harried version of me persisted until I was about 30.
Then, I think I simply got tired. Or, maybe I woke up and realized that sprinting through life meant I missed most of what I was sprinting toward/through/around.
I started to slow my pace and absorb my surroundings.
I felt my heart jump out of my body when I visited Grand Canyon for the first time as an adult. My heart literally flew out over that gash in the ground, like a gray hawk on the hunt.
I saw one of the great wonders of the world.
I saw it.
I wasn’t checking Facebook status or my email or my phone. I wasn’t posting to Instagram or writing my memoirs.
I was just there, staring into that cavernous space, unable to catch my breath.
Beautiful, I said, mostly to myself.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
After that, I cataloged the desert plants in the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, where I’d moved to teach college. I read their names and sat down next to them and said hello. I loved the sound of the language that their singular beauty had been folded into. Cholla; Bird of Paradise; Indian paintbrush; Yucca; Aloe.
I started to realize the rough wisdom of the desert tortoise. It didn’t cover a lot of ground but it did seem to enjoy the ground it covered.
It was steady. Sure. Unwavering.
It listened and was changed by what it heard.
This world is inhuman.
The pace at which we shuttle through time is unhealthy – both physically and mentally.
It’s too much rush and fuss. Too much bluster.
We need to tuck under an old tree spirit and let the sun speckle us with light.
We need to talk less and listen more.
We need to let ourselves loosen, settle, open.
The whole of life would be better if we embraced a slower, kinder, more reverent way of moving through the world.
© 2016 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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