Slowing down, trying harder


Two thoughts have been stuck in my mind for a while. One is my perceived need to slow down and be more mindful. It’s not like my schedule is so packed that I have little time to breathe, much less slow down. I’m retired and have more free time (misnomer if there ever was one. Time is not free and it’s always limited.) I have only two scheduled commitments per week. I’m talking more about, as the old saying goes, ‘slowing down to smell the roses.” Even in my retired life, I realize I’m often in a hurry and not paying attention to the small joys in life, although I do seem to slow down enough to pay attention to the small aggravations that pop up. That’s a discussion for another time.

When I do manage to be mindful, I find life filled with joy, exciting events, great people and beautiful sights. So, I’m on a quest to use more of my time to slow down and less of my time to rush to the end of who knows what. An example perhaps. Eating. Oh yes, that daily chore that has become an event to rush through while we sit uncomfortably with a plate balanced on our laps; while watching some inane TV program about being beautiful and falling in love (perhaps lust) with 20 hard-bodied bachelors whose goal is to give a rose as their token of love, and then get the woman in bed. (A long rambling sentence)What did I eat? I don’t know. Was it good? I’m not sure. Did I eat too much? Of course. But every so often there is a good program. One that should be watched with attention and not the distraction of spilled BBQ sauce over a new tee shirt. A program about kids attempting to get our attention about climate change. Or maybe a program about the care and love a female monkey gives her baby. No matter the subject, if we are mindful, selective and alert to what’s before us, we can learn, enjoy and perhaps add our part to honest and real life progress.

So being more mindful is one goal.

I heard a story yesterday on NPR about writing. The speaker told the story of a famous writer (I was wasn’t being completely mindful, so I don’t know who the writer was) being asked a question. “What is your best book?” the response from the writer was, “My next one.” I’m no famous writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do write and most of the time I enjoy the process a great deal. So why can’t my answer be the same. “My best book is my next one.”

Although I have my lazy moments, I don’t like lazy people. Just to be clear, laziness is a subjective word. I do think we all have our own personal definitions of laziness. In writing, I sum it up in simple terms. Its not caring enough to try. I am fully aware that people write for various reasons. Some seek fame and fortune. Some seek a pleasurable pastime. Some people have a need to create. I’m a little old for fame and fortune. Writing is pleasurable for me. Trying to write better than I did the last time is great pleasure for me.

I’ve been a drummer for 55 years. I generally say that I’m not a musician, I’m a drummer. That aside, at best I’m an average drummer. I have probably never cared much to try and be a great drummer. I played tennis for 30 years. I was a decent player until my age overtook my ability to get better. It was fun, I won a few tournaments and lost more. It was enjoyable to be with friends and on occasion to beat some jerks. Now I’m a writer. I love books and I love good writing. I’ve drawn some comments about being too hard on myself about my writing. I’m well aware that I’m not John Steinbeck and I will never write as he wrote. But I can be better. I can try harder. I can practice, and someday I might even be a decent writer. That’s a goal I take on with some relish.

So there it is. Slow down to enjoy, to notice and to embrace. Sit down and write, use my brain and make the next sentence, page and book better than the last. Maybe if I get another lifetime, I might accomplish both. If not, I’m still going to try.

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.” Roy T. Bennett

“What is written without effort is generally read without pleasure.” Samuel Johnson

Go well – David