I’ve been getting a strong message lately, and it’s not a new one: SLOW DOWN! Actually, I’ve been getting different iterations of this message for about 30 years, and up until now I have totally ignored them.
I’m the kind of girl who runs full bore ahead until complete exhaustion forces me to stop. Most often it’s a cold or flu that puts me to rest for a few days, and even then, I can’t resist using the “down-time” to clean out closets, make lists, re-organize the kitchen…. well, you know the drill. It’s like this – God gives me a little tap-tap-tap on the shoulder (in the form of the aforementioned cold) and I brush him off time and again. I just refuse to listen.
Nothing I’ve tried so far helps me, because fundamentally I don’t want to slow down. For about a year now, I’ve been studying the Alexander Technique (which is all about slowing down) and it is the hardest course of study I have ever undertaken. I work so hard at this technique that I pretty much defeat its purpose. It’s hard to connect deeply with yourself when you are trying to be perfect at doing it. Still, I continue the study and continue to grow.
Anyway, God must have been sick and tired of being ignored, because last April, instead of a tap-tap-tap on the shoulder, he clocked me one – he knocked me out with a very tough lesson. I was zooming along trying to be perfect at yoga when I over-stretched to such an extreme that I tore my hip labral cartilage and strained the hip flexor tendon. Truly unbelievable. Stubborn as always, rather than slow down and listen to my body, I charged ahead seeking a solution.
I spent months getting every treatment in the book and working hard at physical therapy while my symptoms only got worse. Finally my good friend and muscle therapist said, “Maybe you need to rest, Erin. This is a bad injury. Rest it.” I was at my wit’s end, in tears every five minutes from frustration, and so, finally, I listened.
While painful, exasperating and disturbingly slow to heal, this injury has taught me much. I learned that healing begins in my mind. That no amount of effort or determination can move things along faster than they are meant to go. That until I surrender and am willing to accept my limitations, I will not find any peace. And most importantly, I learned that my decades old nagging message is crucial to happiness and success. Life is about the process, not the result. Having an intense focus on achieving a positive outcome defeats its own purpose.
This summer has been an emotional roller coaster. I am just now beginning to learn how to be still, how to rest and how to value my own internal deadlines more than the insane music business pressures that drive me. I’m not fool enough to believe that I am finished with this lesson, but I can say that I’ve passed the first course:
Slow Down: 101 – 4 credits – B minus. Fall semester coming up.
Here is my new mantra:
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy. (Paul Simon)