Slow down and enjoy life

Children always ask: “Are we there yet?” and we call them silly and tell them to have some patience. At a certain age we stop asking that question, but as adults we still want to get everything done as quickly as possible.

Why?

I asked myself this question when I started the huge task of painting a 10-foot wide mandala on an outdoor wall in front of my house and business. It is an oversized project, and I have never done such a thing before. I have no idea how fast I could finish the whole thing.

Once I started painting, I realised that I could not go fast, because every time I put in a bit of colour, I have to wait until it dries before I can put in the next round, to avoid staining everything.

This huge project will have to go slow by default. It was a confusing realisation that I was forced to allow myself to go slow, not to feel like I need to finish this as soon as possible. I had to shift my mind away from the familiar urge to rush, and reset it into a slow-but-steady mode. 

We always feel rushed, don’t we? We always want to do things fast, get it over with, because there is so much more that we shoulda coulda woulda.

So many chores to do, so many tasks to accomplish. So many needs to be met, and so many desires to fulfil.

We always want to get things over with. We’re forever rushing through things to get to the end. We seem to have an aversion to really experience the actual task. We tend to stay out of touch with the things we do all day.

We either rush through a task, plowing through it and getting it done, or we never start it, overwhelmed and intimidated by the sheer vastness of it. Both attitudes are coming from that aversion.

In our rush to get as much done as possible, we forget to savour the moment. Things only get done as a sequence of little steps. Each step is a moment, and experiencing that moment consciously is what makes life worth-wile.

“We come to life and our energy soars when we join that moment, rather than standing separate from it—when we rise to the occasion rather than sink into the pit of resistance.” ~ Donna Quesada

If I would have given in to my sense of overwhelm by the sheer size of that mandala, I would never have started, I would have sunk into that pit of resistance. But I have chosen to allow myself as much time as needed to finish this mandala. Actually, I have started to think of it as an intentionally never-ending project, where I can keep adding and altering little details into eternity.

By now, instead of feeling overwhelmed by its vastness, I am excited about the endless field of possibility that this wall-painting is offering me.

We tend get lost in busy-ness, and often use that as an excuse for not doing something, for not being able to meet someone, help them, do something for them.

Too often we also have that excuse ready for ourselves: we don’t have time to exercise, to meditate, to write, paint, garden, to take care of ourselves in a nourishing and nurturing way.

Basically, by letting ourselves get sucked into this false precept of busy-ness, we don’t have time to love ourselves and do what inspires us, what makes us feel alive, what keeps us healthy and thus energised.

Stop the rush, slow down! We can do each thing with attention, enjoying each little moment of the chore, of the challenging task, the tedious job. In every moment there is something to observe, to enjoy and to marvel about, to learn and to absorb, as an essential part of life.

Let’s try and not miss out on all those special moments!

I don’t have two or three months to paint that huge mandala in one go. But I have a little bit of time almost every day to work on it.

Every day a moment to decide on a new shape or another colour.

Every day an opportunity to tackle a little obstacle, meet a small challenge. Every day the opportunity to get into a short bout of high meditative focus.

For the next year or so, or maybe for as long as I live here.

It’s great practice for life!

The cat that changed my mind

 

(This blog-post is not part of the series on Pumpkins’ life. That series will be continued soon!)

Pumpkins has disappeared.

He’s gone. Disappeared. Just like that. We went to bed like normal one night, and the next morning he wasn’t there when I woke up. Normally when I get out of bed, he will be sitting on my deck or pop up from underneath, but this time he didn’t.

I went about my morning as normal, thinking he would walk in a little later, that he had just fallen asleep in a cozy spot and hadn’t realised it was morning. After a night of prowling, he usually sleeps his deepest sleep in the mornings, on the doormat or on my lap. So maybe he was just zonked out somewhere else.

But he never walked in that day, heading for his food bowl, as he normally would.

I spent the day hoping that he would pop up in the evening, that maybe he had been wandering off too far in the night and decided to hide out somewhere safe during the day before he would walk back under the protection of the darkness at night.

I hadn’t woken up during the night from screeching cat fights or barking dogs in combination with cat screams, which could indicate that he got in trouble. None of my neighbours had heard anything alarming either. So I didn’t think he was lying somewhere half-crippled and bleeding from a dog-attack, the way we first found him, several years ago. Or maybe I was just hoping he wasn’t.

 

Where was I? Or better, where were you? Oh, right: still on my neighbour’s back porch, recovering from another attack. Crazy cat. 

Every once in a while there will be a vet coming to the island, so when that was the case, they tried to get you fixed. But my neighbours totally underestimated your opposition to being put in a carrier, so ten steps on their way to the vet you were out and away. Good for you!

Pumpkins the cat that changed his mindNext time they asked my help, and together we got you into a cage, and to the vet. It was amazing to see how you relaxed into the idea of sitting in a cage for hours inside an unknown space full of strangers and dogs, waiting your turn. You just went to sleep. You really seem to know when to surrender, don’t you? (you should write a book about it, make it into a workshop, it will sell very well). When it finally was your turn, the vet sedated you through the slits in the side of the cage, to prevent you from attacking her. Once you were out, you looked so harmless and sweet. But lo and behold: you had never been operated in your life, but you had no balls. Well, you have balls for sure, but no testicles in your little ball-sacks. They had never dropped in. So you didn’t get fixed. All that trouble for nothing. You were of course very pleased with yourself, I assume.

A few months later, time was coming for my neighbours to leave the island again. Their house would be occupied by a watchman, and he was ordered to feed you and give you fresh water every day on that back porch. They left a big sack of cat food, which should be enough for the time they were gone. You were in good shape by then, with only some minor scratches now and then, but no gaping holes, festering puncture wounds or other parts missing. You were basically living your independent cat life, apart from that bowl of kibble every day. I was only asked to report back on you every now and then, nothing else. 

The night before their departure, you disappeared, like most house cats would do. It’s that old trick of making us humans extra worried, so that we feel guilty about leaving you behind, even though there is not one hair in your fur that wishes to travel with us.

So as expected, they worried, came over and asked me to keep an eye out for you and let them know if I found you, if you were alright, etc. So suddenly I had cat duties……

 

If you want to read episodes 1-5 of Pumpkins’ story, click here.