The Power of Slowing Down
It has been raining for three weeks straight where I am. I arrived back in Córdoba the day after my birthday, relieved to be home, and the sky opened up to greet me. It hasn't closed since. I've always preferred the sunshine, and I know from personal experience living on the East Coast that my Southern California upbringing only further heightened my natural sensitivity to the weather. I purchased a sun lamp during my first winter in Washington, DC and vowed then and there to never move to Chicago or the Pacific Northwest. I tend to wilt under gray skies.
This month, then, has proven to be a struggle for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally happy as I go about my day, but I've been having a hard time feeling particularly motivated or inspired. My brain often feels as cloudy as the sky overhead. With the outdoors so cold and damp, I don't feel like going out and about as much as I usually do. In general, I've just felt low on energy.
Today in particular saw me feeling particularly weak. I've stayed out late with friends the past several nights (and late by Spanish standards means 3am at least) and slept away the first part of each day, which contradicts my body's natural rhythm. And the rain today was constant, starting at 9 in the morning when I briefly woke up and still not having stopped as I write this after midnight. I ate breakfast (lunch, really) in bed and fell into my latest read, the captivating This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins.
I then tried and failed to write. I made a list of tasks to do and then discarded it to wait until tomorrow. I went to the gym where I finally reminded myself that I have working muscles, only to ease into the jacuzzi after and melt back into my state of subdued laziness. I've drifted through the evening like a ghost, having done nothing more than make a cold dinner and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
At first, I felt guilty. I felt guilty as I woke up and saw the late hour, guilty as I sipped my coffee in bed, guilty as I allowed the day to slip away from me with little more than an anemic struggle from me to capture time and make it productive.
Something shifted in me at some point in the afternoon, however, and I stopped feeling guilty. I accepted the day for what it was - dark, rainy, lazy - and gave myself permission to merely exist within it. From that point on, I experienced the day through a pleasant haze of contemplation. I have been observing it, in much the same way I watch thoughts pass through the gaze of my mind's eye when I meditate. Rather than forcing myself to become something I was not today, I allowed myself to just be.
There is a power in this surrender. Our first instinct is to quarrel with the slowness, to grab it with both hands and push and pull until we are left with a mangled version of how we think the day ought to be. What we fail to realize is that though we might be able to manipulate our natural state, in doing so we lose the perfect wholeness of accepting ourselves as we are. There is so much more satisfaction in that acceptance. Rather than make us weak for failing to push through the slowness, surrendering to our bodies and minds offers us a much more profound kind of power than the false success of "productivity" for its own sake. We derive this power from alignment with ourselves and our bodies' natural rhythms.
And so on days like today, I remind myself that I am a creature in the world, an animal affected by clouds and cold and subject to the cycles of my physical being just like any other. I could continue on to rail against late capitalism's tyranny over our society, which teaches us to measure ourselves against money and tells us that we are only worth as much as we can produce. But I'm tired. I think I'll go to sleep.