I think something I have missed over the last year is living slow.
Not that I can say I’ve been living fast, exactly. More like I’ve been running along the knife-edge between adequate accomplishment and exhaustion. Getting the things done I needed to get done when I needed to get them done, and then crashing out while they didn’t need doing. All the while not really seeming to go anywhere all that interesting.
This morning my son and I took a leisurely morning walk to the local shop, and while we meandered through the sunlit streets, I realised how long it had been since I’d felt that peaceful ease of not having anywhere in particular to be for the next while, and just enjoying the slow journey from here to wherever we might go.
There is a lot of rushing around these days, but it’s not all rush. I try to build in parts to our week where we can slow down together, but the only way I can wangle it is if they do double duty – they need to tick off some other kind of purpose; education, enrichment, socialisation…there’s an undercurrent – an ulterior motive – and my body knows it.
We used to meander through the sunlit streets for no particular reason almost every day. And maybe that’s over now, but I hope not. I hope I can add it back in.
I’ve been skimming the surface of my life again lately. What am I avoiding?
We are living in strange times. It seems trite to say – what part of the modern era hasn’t been strange? But things seem to be getting stranger. Whenever I think about it, I also can’t help but to think about how tiny I am. A speck, floating on the strange breeze which, one day quite soon, might become a strange hurricane. I have no power here.
I know I have power. And I could use my power, in allegiance with others, to potentially enact some kind of response to whatever strange change is rising. But I’m scared that it will catch me unaware. I’m scared that none of us are predicting it accurately. I’m scared there’s just too much to the story, and that even our best minds fall short. I’m scared it’s going to come down to luck, for almost each and every one of us, which way we get cast by the strange wind that’s coming.
So this skimming I’m doing of late; I think I’m putting my head in the sand. Playing video games instead of living my life, because I feel preemptively trapped and disempowered. As I imagine what decisions I may be called to make in future years, I’m playing scenarios out in my head and regularly finding myself in a hypothetical location where acting in accordance with my values risks my personal safety, and I’m wrestling with the fact that I think, as a mother, I would probably surrender my values for my personal safety. And I don’t like that. Not least because I fear preserving my short-term personal safety could come at the cost of my long-term personal safety. The future is a strange, scary knot.
In part I’m getting way ahead of myself. But, in part, too, I feel like I’ve let myself be left behind. Something is going on in the world, bigger than all the things going on, and I don’t understand it. Not even a little bit. And I’ve sensed it coming for years, and I’ve told myself I was being melodramatic. But now it’s still coming, and it’s closer, and I still don’t know what to do with it.
But that’s not a good enough reason to do nothing.
A symbol of modern Western comfort.
We all live in a magical world. But there are different kinds of magic. Those of us lucky enough to sit in our armchairs every day if we like are inherently more subject to a certain, and altogether intoxicating, kind of magic. A magic of instant gratification, world at our fingertips, all our tiny wants fulfilled, delivered to our door. It’s positively glamourous. And so we are naturally mesmerised by it. Naturally inclined to…recline.
I have been sitting in my metaphorical armchair rather too often these past few months. I’ve barely gotten out of it recently, if truth be told. I have known it, and I have been too apathetic to remedy it. Frankly, I have been enjoying it too much to quit. The magic show has been too compelling; too impressive. And I have been unwilling to tear my eyes away.
But the magic show is empty. It’s gloss and glitter in the cracks. It doesn’t touch any real part of me. It doesn’t nourish me.
It makes me feel safe, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t truly make my life any less precarious. It doesn’t change anything, in fact. It just lets me forget. It lets me relax. It lets me succumb. I don’t have to be strong when I’m watching the show. I don’t have to face the darkness. I don’t have to make any difficult decisions. I don’t have to live up to my potential. It’s all so very comfortable.
But I don’t want the life I’d have if I keep sitting in that comfy, cushioned, atrophy-inducing chair. I want a life of exercised power. I want to create my own sort of magic.
So go on then, Yve. Up with you.
Do we think The Veil is thinner today?
I enjoy the cycles and rituals of nature-based religions. There is something very soothing to the human about indulging in the undulating rhythm of the seasons. The constant ebb and flow, from full to new, to full, to new, to full, to new, to full, to new. The gradual rotation of the axes of our year, from extremity of light or dark to equality and back again. A time for everything. Everything in good time. A safe and meaningful passage through the ages.
I struggle, however, to keep up. I get distracted by the trappings of modern existence. The grocery shopping. The school run. The job interview. The laundry basket. The time spent driving from task to task. The effort spent driving myself through each task. The sense I need to be more productive. The chronic strain of having my worth as a human externally judged by my financial buoyancy. Buoyancy is just how hard you push down on what’s beneath you.
I need a thinner veil. Because I am feeling disconnected. I am a little too far removed from what is real, and a little too far enmeshed in our comfortable collective delusion. I liked the idea, for a while, of chasing money. Chasing status. I liked the idea of the relief it would bring me. The world would consider me successful, and I could stop worrying it considers me a failure. The World. The World we have constructed. The Artifice upon which we teeter.
I don’t mind The Artifice. It’s useful in a lot of ways. It’s broken, sure, but it can be fixed. I just can’t live in it completely for very long before I start to feel ungrounded, and I need to reach back through to the other side. But the longer you stay away, the harder it is to feel your way back. So I probably need a ritual, and a night when The Veil is thin.