Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Love Letter to my life #55: The incredible gift of SLOW.

 (We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life. — Joyce Wycoff)

   There seems to be a gadget in my brain that sweeps through the day’s debris as I sleep and spits out a ponder-bit as I awake in the morning. Yesterday, it was a question: Am I an empath? (Answer: probably not, but deserves more thought.) This morning it was the title for this blog post: The incredible gift of SLOW.

   I believe I was born slow and got to spend the first 13 years of my life in the slow lane before getting shoved into the rushing river which seems to go faster every year. An unrecognized-at-the-time blessing of the 2008 financial crisis was being spit out of that river. Now, I’m going on 15 years of “meandering with a mazy motion*” with only occasional bursts of shoulds and external deadlines.

   For the past two weeks I’ve been with a friend in La Paz, Baja California Sur, a place that seems designed for slow … peaceful waters, quiet beauty, and not a frantic bone in its body. I came full of plans: kayaking, snorkeling, exploring; and god laughed. My travel buddy has been nursing a sinus infection and her reduced energy invited me to let go of expectations and just relax, read, contemplate life, nap a lot.

   La Paz may be Mexico-lite, but it is Mexico. During the night, the dogs bark … a lot. We’re in a mixed neighborhood typical of Mexico: commercial enterprises (each fenced and guarded by multiple dogs) sit side by side with residences (with their own dogs), and hotels and airbnbs (where people try to sleep). 

   Often the dogs get restless at night and, since I’m not worrying about losing sleep because there’s always naps, I’ve thought a lot about those dogs. The story I’ve told myself is that one of them gets lonely or scared and calls out to his friends … “Anyone out there? Did you hear that noise? Did you see a stranger?”

   And across the neighborhood, his friends begin to call back … “Yes I heard it, too. What was it? Make more noise; maybe we’ll scare it away.” And sometimes it sounds like they’re refighting the troubles of the day, “You took my bone! I’m pissed. You do that every time. Now I’m hungry.” And the others chime in, barking their own opinions into the brouhaha.

   I listen to the canine drama as it reaches a crescendo and then drops away until one last dog … I think it’s the English Bulldog I see every day on my way to the malecon … he always seems to want the last bark. Part of me wants them to shut up and part of me wishes I knew the script.

In 1883, a lemon-sized and colored pearl was found in La Paz.
It wound up in Queen Elizabeth's crown.

   This morning, though, when my brain gadget delivered the ponder-bit about the gift of SLOW, it also added an acronym/life lesson: 

SLOW: Savor, Listen, Own, Wonder

Savor threw me out of bed this morning in time to experience a stunning sunrise and watch the fishermen heading out for their day.

Listen … put me into the minds of the neighborhood dogs, feeling their insecurities and fears, recognizing their connection to my own, and noticing how my own mind often “barks.”

Own … reminded me that this is my life and I don’t have to respond to the shoulds and expectations of others. However, I do need to own and honor the journey I've chosen and live it fully.

Wonder … connects me to all life as I explore the how, what and why of this incredible world I get to experience.

* From "Xanadu" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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