SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST!
I’ve been a naughty girl and took off camping instead of doing my weekly podcast. Ah, but was it truly naughty? Not really. You see, this is a hobby podcast, and it is supposed to be fun. I do my best to maintain a weekly schedule, but it’s much easier to do in the winter when the rain is falling.
Have you ever heard of the term "In the Race for Happiness? I see it around me all the time. Perhaps not as much as before, as I am in my 50’s and most of my friends are now hitting retirement. Life can get really busy, and sometimes we need to find a way to slow down.
I stopped by to see a good friend last week before I headed out camping. It’s been a few months since we connected, and I took a chance that she might be home. I texted her just before I arrived, to make sure it was convenient. I really don’t like to just stop in, especially with friends who work from home. She was so happy to see me, and when I arrived she told me “stop in anytime, it doesn’t matter if I am busy, I always have time for friends”. Thank you, Denise, for those words – you always have a way of teaching, even when you are not directing a band.
I got my first job the summer I was turning 13. I washed test tubes and beakers in a geological assay lab in the Yukon. I made a whole $3.00 an hour to start, and I thought that was the cat’s meow. It helped contribute towards my first saxophone, as well as provided a steady supply of potato chips, lip gloss and chewing gum. Some of my friend’s parents said I was too young to work. I didn’t feel that way at all. I was following in the footsteps of three older sisters who also started working at a very young age.
Life was always pretty busy for me. In high school I played my saxophone in the band. We used to have concert band practice 2 days a week after school and stage band every morning before class. On top of that I typically worked Friday nights and Saturdays. Sundays my mom had me out the door to attend church at 9 am, and then it was homework, chores and a bit of down time. Yes, life was busy, but fun.
I moved out at a young age also. I was still 17 when I rolled out of the driveway with my car packed to the roof. I was never afraid of working hard. Throughout the years, I worked at different jobs. Life sometimes dictated my direction, but no matter what, I worked hard.
I continued to work hard when I had children. This can be a touchy subject for some people, as I know there are very strong feelings about the working parent vs stay at home parent subject. I can see both sides, and would never comment on what someone does. People do what they have to do.
I had a job that took over my personal life in later years. I would often come home and just get in the door, and the cell phone was going off because my boss needed my assistance. They weren’t lengthy calls, but sometimes I had more than one person from the office calling me for after-hours help. It paid well, my boss was a nice person, but in the end I was really just another number. Years later I am walking with my grown up son, and we are reflecting on jobs. We are talking as adults, and he mentions that he remembers how much I was always having to stop what I was doing to answer the phone. He remembers it well. Granted my son is also a hard worker and he isn’t afraid to put in the extra effort to assist a business, but he remembers the impact that job had on my family life.
I have often gone the extra mile for people I work for. I really have. Without naming any businesses, I can reflect on times when I pulled double shifts because someone didn’t show up. There is a business I worked in when I was in my early 20’s and a staff shortage had me working long hours. One day I arrived at work at 6:30 am and was done at 11:30 at night. I arrived home at midnight and fell asleep sitting up with my soup bowl in front of me. I remember how exhausted I was, and I didn’t have kids at that time. I look around at all the health care workers here who are pulling extra shifts, and I can see why they are crying for help. We have such a shortage of health care providers and the pressure to put in extra hours is likely taking a toll on their own personal lives and health. I know how tired I was after a 17 hour work day, and I can’t imagine the exhaustion our health care providers are feeling when they want to leave the hospital and there is no one to fill the next shift. My jobs required concentration, but I didn’t have anyone’s life in my hands. That is a lot of pressure.
Working hard is a good ethic. My children had hard working parents, and in turn they are hard working as well. They don’t have a sense of entitlement and they understand that it is up to them to earn their way. However, I go back to my son who remembers the impact a particular job had on my personal life. He remembers well because it impacted him as well. He doesn’t complain, but simply notes that it is part of his memory.
Why am I thinking about all of this? It all started with a pool of fish in a river. I was camping this past week, and it was such an enjoyable trip. I am retired and there was no pressure at the end of the trip to rush home because I had to go back to work. My mind was on nature, and I could sit back and breath. I was in a campground near the ocean. It was calm. Peaceful. Every morning I woke up to cool moist air. The fog had rolled in, and visibility across the ocean was limited. I walked down to the ocean with my fishing rod one morning and I did not care if I caught a fish. I was simply happy to be there, smelling the cool fresh air and hearing the sound of the fog horn across the channel. At one point a large eagle swooped so low over me I could hear the “whoosh whoosh” sound of wings and felt the breeze on my shoulders. It was circling around because the salmon were jumping up in the water right in front of me.
My partner discovered a pool of salmon in the nearby river. Along with our friends, we simply sat there, enjoying what nature had brought us. We recognized the salmon were likely on their way prior to spawning, and simply let nature be. There is something to be said for just sitting, watching salmon pool in a river, listening to the birds overhead, actually hearing the leaves rustle in the breeze, and smelling the fresh island air. No cell phones ringing. No loud voices. Simply being with nature. It was a moment I won’t forget.
I lay in bed that night and thought about life, and how "The Race for Happiness" can have such an impact. In today’s society cell phones have been a blessing and also created havoc. It’s great to know you can call for help if your car breaks down, or your family can reach you at any time if there is an emergency. It’s not great when the cell phone becomes a conduit to a never-ending workday that interrupts your family time. I know of people who are glued to their phones. They are on the phone answering emails and texts before they head out the door, and it continues when they come home at night. Family dinners are put on hold for business calls, or the children simply eat without their parent present, even though everyone is home. Does it set a good example that hard work pays off, or does it rob the family of valuable time when everyone connects? Does it leave the people in the house feeling like they matter? Is it worth it?
I know that sometimes there is no choice but to work the extra long hours. Everyone deserves a roof over their heads and food on the table. When the the quest for personal development and monetary items overtakes family life, it can be a slippery slope. It is really important to set aside the time to sit down with nature, breath fresh air, and look at the kaleidoscope of life through a simple lens. Are you working longer hours because you want that bigger truck, nicer boat, fancier home and the latest and greatest of technology? Have you ever considered that the more you own, the more work it is to look after it, and sometimes there is truth to the saying “less is best”?
Constant interference from cell phones, televisions and electronic sounds can really be distracting. I am not against any of these things, but there is a limit. When you turn off the tv, and pick up a book, you are keeping your brain active. Reading is great for your own spelling habits, and no auto-correct is needed.
Taking time to slow down helps with sleep. If you are going to bed with your head still spinning because you were on the computer or your cellphone well after supper time, your sleep quality could be affected. If you don’t sleep well, your ability to be productive is impacted the following day and it can be a vicious cycle.
There are so many reasons to embrace living a simple lifestyle. You can focus on quality time, both for yourself and those who matter to you.
Shopping online has become a habit and addiction for some people. During the pandemic it became increasingly popular, and now the click and shop has made it that much easier to add to the credit card bill. That bill has to be paid, and that means more work.
I go back to my experience watching the salmon in the river. Those are non-material experiences that are priceless. You can’t describe the feeling you have when you feel the wind from the wings of an eagle flying overhead. The sound of happy children engaged in family time is music to your ears in a campground.
I think of a song I heard in the 70’s called “Feeling Groovy”. It starts out with the lyrics “slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last”. This is so true, because you can’t get the time back. The clock is always ticking, and the road travels forward, not back. Are you taking time for yourself? Are you self-nurturing and do you put your cell phone down when your family is gathered at the table? Do you actually gather at the table, and talk about your day, or does everyone sit on their tablets and read the latest and greatest while consuming fast food takeout? What is your lifestyle? Have you become caught up in the race for happiness and forgotten about what really matters?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Send me a note through my website at www.lindysaudiocafe.com. You can also find my Facebook group online and join the Lindy’s Audio Cafe group for updates and discussions.
Audio Podcast of this topic is available at: https://www.lindysaudiocafe.com/38-simply-living.