Slow, nimble and fully alive
A sense of timelessness emerges if we allow the rhythm of daylight and darkness to structure our days. The darkness at this time of year can especially encourage this state of near-bliss that finds us calm and unhurried. One is then able to take each moment as it comes, enjoying whatever it brings.
This makes me think of the Slow Food Movement — a global push to delight in real food lovingly prepared and enjoyed with others rather than on the run — which rapidly gains traction in a fast food culture that may have already peaked. But heck, why stop with food? Lets extend "slow" to everything. This is what draws most of us to live in Duluth, after all. In a crazy world that is hellbent on more, More and MORE, we have the audacity to live slow.
In virtually any aspect of life, the slower and simpler option is usually the better long-term performer. This extends to everything from gardening from the soil up, investing, wooing a lover or losing weight. Some other examples include carefully writing a letter by hand and dropping it in the mail, enjoying a riveting story by reading the book instead of watching the movie, expending effort through biking or walking to a destination and building a strong family.
I grew up on a lot of microwaved meals, alone, in front of the television. The beauty of breaking bread with an entire family is never lost on me. The contrast is stark. Do this day in and day out, even when it's difficult, and you can't help but be changed for the better.
This is a microcosm of a life with sound priorities, the kind that will not be regretted in the clarity of our final breaths. The established wisdom is that there will be time to right the ship after enough money and possessions are acquired. History and common sense, however, show this to be foolishness. The time to live your ideals is right now.
Generally, this means driving productivity from the throne of your life. Slow down, listen, love and be thankful. Complexity robs us of valuable time and energy, diminishes clarity and causes us to focus on the unessential. The real things that we desire are forgotten or never seen.
Voluntarily simplifying life by minimizing everything that isn't essential makes us nimble and capable of concentrating on our deepest desires. Eliminating distractions provides traction for moving forward, slowly, of course, one step at a time.
A crisis can provide the opportunity to evaluate, clear the whiteboard and restructure life entirely. I am endeavoring to boil life down to its simplest terms. Activities, hobbies, possessions and preconceived notions of home economics are all on the table.
By hauling everything out of a room, and sorting out the treasures from the trash, there is a feeling of starting over when setting things back up. This can be done in every area of life. The goal is to boil it all down to the very basic. Think of storing one gallon of maple syrup instead of 40 gallons of sap.
Perhaps this is the dreaded midlife crisis everyone makes such a big deal about. So be it. Last month I shared the experience of entering the Christmas season following a job loss. The goal wasn't to elicit sympathy, but to convey the feelings that anyone in such a situation can relate to. I'd like to thank the numerous people, anonymous in many cases, that showered our family with love and support. Kindnesses, numerous and varied, illuminated darkness like a great display of fireworks. Entire constellations suddenly appeared to encourage a weary navigator on the high seas. Thank you.
Part of slowing down and restructuring life is the act of pausing, bending low and smelling a beautiful flower on a long journey. Observing splendor in all forms is crucial to cultivating gratitude. Topping the list is the generosity and kindheartedness of community-minded souls that appear on every block in every neighborhood throughout our beautiful city.
This is why we chose to sink down roots in this place. Take time this week to observe these lovely people and be thankful. Allow simple acts of love and sacrifice to sink down deep to become cherished memories.
Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at www.eddygilmore.com.