day one. slow down

One of the major lessons I’ve learned from being sick is that I need to slow down. I am in a hurry about 98% of the time. I get impatient and antsy. I feel the need to complete tasks as quickly as possible (unless they really consume me and compel me to take my time) and get them off my plate. This hurry also manifests itself in the inability to relax and just be dormant—I can’t sit still for more than a few minutes at a time because my brain already has rushed off to the next destination.

But I haven’t been able to hurry the past several days. At first, I was still capable of moving quickly, after which I would pay with extreme pain and the need to catch my breath for a full minute afterward. Then I just couldn’t. I couldn’t turn over quickly, run down the stairs (I made that mistake earlier today – whew!), even stand up too fast. I suppose I could’ve if I’d tried, but my body was wholly against it.

I stood in line at the supermarket today behind an elderly woman with a handful of items, a prescription to fill and a request for a box of cigarettes located somewhere else in the store. Usual Emily would huff and puff, try to line jump over to the express lane (where she should’ve been in the first place, with just two containers of ice cream) and shake her fist at the lady. But Sick Emily, Tired Emily, Less-Stressed-Than-Yesterday Emily did none of those things. She waited patiently. She smiled. She browsed the tabloids by the conveyor belt. She considered buying a pack of Trident. It’s a small step toward not rushing, but a step nonetheless.

And in my conversation with Dennis last night, I was reminded of weekend one in Birmingham, where we walked to Nabeel’s, talked and laughed despite my random stomach ailment, couldn’t get enough of each other even when we were involved in ridiculously deep discussions that probably didn’t need to happen upon first meeting. It made me smile to think of that and our most recent weekend together, seeing the Memphis sights and sitting together in a little coffee shop while I tried to grasp chess. I don’t want to think I’m losing those times by hurrying through them, waiting for the next step, the next phase, the next thing that comes along to make or break our relationship. They can’t be a thing of the past: the earlier of the two happened only just over a month ago! To think I’ve rushed ahead enough to feel like it was so long ago… it makes me ill.

Rushing through life is toxic. While it’s a virtue to have the ability to act fast, there are so many times where slowness wins. I have spent my life rushing through not only singular tasks handed to me at work, books on my reading list, phone calls home, but also new relationships, pretty big decisions, life changes, giant chunks of my history I’ll never be able to redo.

It’s cliché to wish I could return to high school, apply for the editorship at The Bleu Print, spend a little more time in college, rethink those disastrous romantic relationships along the way. It’s not that I don’t wish that were possible every now and again, but what I wish for myself now is to make the most of today, no matter what it holds.

But wait. I have to stop for a second, to slow down. Because it is this very trap that gets me every time. I take too big a bite of life, or start planning too many changes or moves, and it gets overwhelming. Instead, let me start with what I have: friends, a boyfriend, family, a job, a new(-ish) city I’ve yet to explore, a chance to break into the social media world and bring DU along with me, renewed health (after this bout of pneumonia is passed), a bod I’m working on making killer (again, resuming post-pneumonia)… That’s more than enough to get started, I think.

It’s strange to feel like I’m 18 again, just starting out on a path in life, trying to make sense of it all. Maybe we all feel like that sometimes, regardless of our age or life situation. But I think the key to taming the beast that is future and unknown is to slow down, breathe and keep your eye on the moment—it’ll be gone before you know it.

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Filed under happiness, health, lessons, thoughts

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