there is time

Living an unhurried life is a choice to relish the ordinary moments.

One of the biggest lies in my life is that “I don’t have enough time,” or its nasty twin, “I’m busy.” I’ve tried to eradicate the words, “I’m busy” from my vocabulary. I get a little feisty when someone tells me I’m busy. I don’t want to be busy. Rarely will you hear, “I’m busy!” escape my lips, but it too often sabotages my thoughts.

Many moons ago when I was surrounded by young children, I decided to replace the lie of “I’m too busy,” with the truth of “I have time.” Along with this shift came my commitment to saying “Yes” more often. “Yes” can become just as dangerous as busy, but as long as I act with care, I have found that “Yes” makes my life more satisfying.

It is counterintuitive, right? I say “Yes” to combat busy.

I said yes to picnics in the park with deli meat, cheese, crackers, and pickles. I said yes to setting up the hose in the backyard on hot July afternoons to run through the crisp well water that would turn swimsuits muddy and rusty. I said yes to Rice Krispie treats in the tippy-top of the swing set. I said yes to reading under the shade tree, and I said yes to the sandbox and bubbles and sidewalk chalk and swimming.

I chose yes; over and over again, I said yes. I said yes to catching lighting bugs. I said yes to avocados and yogurt and chocolate milk. I said yes to train tracks that wrapped around the living room and the kitchen and the dinner table. I said yes to decorating cupcakes, making chocolate chip cookies, and savory salmon.

I said yes because I wanted them to be unhurried. I didn’t want them to feel rushed or the pressure of the clock. I wanted to nourish the simplicity of joy within our lives. Everyone warned that childhood passes quickly and in a blink they would be grown up.

In some ways it did happen quickly. In many ways it did not. Regardless, they grew up. I no longer spend my days saying yes to simple childhood experiences so my kids will learn to live lives that value small ordinary moments in unrushed ways.

Our kids grew up, and I’m looking around at this season and wondering—

What happened to the slow days of watching the world pass by? What happened to floating in the pool? What happened to tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob and watermelon eaten around the dinner table with handpicked flowers in the center? What happened to library visits and sitting in the shady park and bike rides? What happened to pots of summer flowers?

To be fair, I continue to recover from a broken ankle that is taking a long time to heal. I continue to pick up the pieces from the injury and the move to a new job. I continue to sort through the house that didn’t get the care it needed from months of recovery.

As the summer days stretch into August, I am finding that my daily grind is not very different from the school year. When alone, I default to work. I can fill up a day with plenty of tasks to keep me busy.

Busy strikes again. I look around at the end of summer, and I can’t help but wonder what happened. Traditionally, our family squeezes every moment out of summer. I’m not sure I lingered in all that deep summer has to offer.

For a long time, my motivation for an unhurried life was a gift I wanted to give the kids. I’m realizing now, it is also a gift I want to give myself. If I am constantly a slave to busy, I will just flit (or flop) to the next thing I have to do. The next thing is school starting, but my heart is still longing for the long, lazy summer days.

We don’t talk about school starting. We don’t talk about summer ending.

Yet, there comes a time when I light a fresh candle that smells like school beginning. It’s not something that is determined by the calendar, but it is something I feel in my heart. I just know when the time is right. The candle is apple or pumpkin or fall leaves…and it always has the comfort of cinnamon. It’s the signal of a changing season. It’s the smell of the world turning, and the hope of the next adventure.

It’s a slow transition, where we begin to think about fall, but we linger in summer. We smell the start of school while we eat crispy cucumbers still warm from the garden and fill our glasses with homemade lemonade. We go to bed too late, but we also talk about the looming evening responsibilities once school starts.

Maybe what I’m longing for isn’t the nostalgia of summer days, but of a life nourished by ordinary joy. Simple familiar moments are not only reserved for childhood, but they can be part of the life I cultivate because it is the life I want to live.

If I am constantly keeping busy, I don’t have a chance to cultivate a life of whimsy, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. The choice of a nourished life is swiped away when I’m too busy being busy.

Perhaps I learned to live an unhurried life as a mother to young children. Perhaps even more challenging is to commit to living an unhurried life just for me.

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4 Comments »

  1. Ruth,I love this-your memories serve as reminders to enjoy small moments and this piece speaks so much to what’s been on my mind lately

  2. That is absolutely the challenge: committing to living unhurried lives just for ourselves. This weekend has been wild for me. I want this day, this weekend, to be slow and sweet. I’m working on it.

  3. Oh my! This has not been a slow, unhurried summer for me. Living unhurried just for me is a challenging thought. Especially as my days have been overfull this summer. Cheers to a slow, unhurried fall with time to linger with a mug of apple cider, piles of leaves, and the smells of cinnamon, and pumpkin. A beautiful reflection, Ruth!

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