Editor’s Note: This is a post from guest contributor Katy Tynan of Big Little Living.
I am not patient.
Most days I wake up with a long list of things to do – most of us do. I hurry up and get ready for work and then I sit in traffic. I write emails, meet deadlines, go to meetings and then hurry home to meet my son at the bus. My ability to pack a day full of stuff can be an asset. It helps me get my job done, and that pays the bills. But sometimes I get ahead of myself. Sometimes I worry so much about what’s next that I forget to look at what’s right now.
And then a moment of peace and stillness comes creeping into my busy life. It settles down on my busy-ness. It covers up my worry. It makes a little space to breathe.
These moments of calm come right in the middle of my busy, hurrying day. They come when I remember to breathe. They come when I remember, even in my office, that tonight the sun will set over the apple orchards. When I remember that right now as I sit in traffic, somewhere the waves are gently lapping at the shore.
If not for all the busy-ness, I’m not sure I would appreciate these moments of peace that slip in between the cracks. I imagine mindful people sitting quietly in the middle of empty, minimalist spaces with the sound of trickling water in the background. I never imagined I could find it in the middle of my busy days.
A lot of mindful moments come when I’m with my son. He sees the small things. He takes his time. And he draws my attention to things I wouldn’t ordinarily even notice.
He moves so fast and yet he sees so much because there is so very much to see. The world is full of tiny beauty; fragile, fascinating moments that exist whether we notice them or not.
“I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored.”
— Albert Camus
I thought I was going to teach him how to appreciate the world but he teaches me. On his hands and knees in puddles of mud, filled with the thrill of discovery, he discovers what matters. He sees the details and brings them up into the light.
He reminds me that sometimes it’s ok to be late to a meeting or miss a day of work because we need to stop and appreciate the world; that fun and beauty and discovery don’t necessarily happen on a schedule or in an orderly fashion.
“Life moves pretty fast and if you don’t take the time to stop and look around you might miss it.”
— Ferris Bueller
Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have nothing to do. How would life be if my days were empty and unscripted? Do I need the rush to appreciate the peace? Do I need the schedule in order to have the fun of skipping it for a day? Because I think the answer is yes, I am as grateful for the chaos and the schedule and the work as I am for the quiet moments in between.
In her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain described the ideal balance that every person has – as unique as a fingerprint – of perfect stimulation. Too much and we are overwhelmed. Too little and we are bored. We are all seeking that perfect state – some days we find it and other days we don’t. But every day is a new day to try again.
About Katy Tynan:
Katy is an author and leadership consultant from Boston, Massachusetts. She blogs on how to live a big, happy life at Big Little Living. You can also connect with Katy on Twitter.