I promise the lack of Beauty in Book posts doesn’t mean I’m not reading. Some books haven’t warranted a full post, and I’ve got another two on deck to write posts about in the near future. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day…
Thankfully, my travels last week gave me solid, uninterrupted blocks of time to read (one of the perks of flying). I started The In-Between on my second flight to Atlanta and finished it on the way back. It’s been a bit strange reading writers who fall in the same pack, if you will. The forward was written by an author I’d read recently, the book was mentioned in Packing Light. It’s like they’ve got their own writing clique of sorts.
But that’s neither here nor there, other than to say they deliver similar messages. I don’t know if it’s because my life has calmed down pretty substantially on an emotional front and I’m more open to the message or if the universe is trying to tell me something.
Regardless, it’s a message I didn’t mind hearing again.
Just this morning, I opened my laptop to check email, and as my messages began to download, I opened a web browser. While that loaded, I checked Twitter on my phone. Incapable of wasting a single second, to simply sit still and soak in my surroundings, I must always do something. I must squeeze the most out of every moment, unaware that this leaves little left to savor. I blame TV for what it’s done to my brain, the Internet for how it’s made me impatient. But the truth is, I’m the one who chooses to be restless, the one who gives in to temptations to find the next thrill, while refusing the joy of what’s in front of me. (pg. 25)
I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this concept before (and probably will again…). I think what helped is that I was traveling, thus giving me an opportunity to put it into practice. Instead of pulling out my phone while waiting for another session to start or while the cab driver was taking us to our next location, I observed. I looked a beautiful buildings, brightly colored trees and a variety of people. I took in the sights and sounds, reminding myself of how fortunate I am (did I mention my career fangirl moment?!).
My hope is that this appreciation and stillness, for lack of a better word, can carry over into my everyday life. I wrote just a couple days ago that finally my life had some sense of normalcy. But what do I find myself doing? Trying to find new community education classes to enroll in, reaching out to new organizations for volunteer opportunities (more on that in another post) and scouring the meetup group website to see if any social outings catch my eye.
I feel like I need to constantly be making the most of my time and on the go, not realizing that sometimes the best use of my time is slowing down.
A life filled with movement, with constant motion and no rest stops, isn’t a life at all. It’s tourism. Life’s mundane moments – ordinary times of TV-watching and breakfast-eating – can be embraced as a slow, deliberate, beautiful way of life if we pay attention and see what’s really there. (pg. 39)
I love that concept, in part because it’s so true. Granted, I’m still going to chase those thrills and attempt to make the most of each day and week. And that’s okay. Essentially the concept of the in-between was to realize and, perhaps more importantly, be okay with the times when it feels like life isn’t progressing – at least not in the way you might want it to or at the pace you want. It will eventually. Change is inevitable, and those pauses in life allow us to catch our breath.
Last fall and winter I was smack dab in the middle of that in-between stage. I felt stuck, frustrated and despite every attempt at making progress, nothing changed. But let me tell you, it’s a hell of a time for some good self-reflection and introspection. Fast forward not even a year, and my mundane moments of reading while Hurley snoozes next to me is as beautiful as life gets.
As enticing as it may seem at times, I don’t want a life filled with constant movement. I read this book at a good time in that it reminded me that I don’t have to be a tourist in Lincoln. I don’t have to pack my schedule full of social activities, networking functions, volunteer opportunities and more. I can just enjoy this new in-between stage of sorts and take things as they come. It might not be at the pace I normally like to go in life (read: top speed), but at least this way I get to better appreciate all the beauty and joy around me.