A short while ago, I was reassigned to the nursery and chickens. In the nursery, we water baby plants. Very baby plants get a soft misting spray. Older, adolescent plants get a rain shower. We were told that it is really important, whether watering a tree, a vegetable, or anything else, that water must be delivered slowly. A torrential downpour flattens baby plants, even uproots them. It can wash away soil. And most importantly, it doesn’t percolate properly down into the soil. Much of it runs off and is wasted.
As I slowly and methodically water plants, I meditate on slow living. Slow cooking, slow waking, slow weekends. So much of our culture’s unhealthy patterns is because we are too busy… and not just too busy, we’re too fast. We wolf down food that was cooked in minutes as we drive on the freeway. We don’t give any attention to the food we’re eating and ensuring its full nutrition is given to our bodies, and we scarcely pay mind to the beings who gave their lives and labor to nourish ours. We eat densely-calorically-packed fast food so quickly that our stomachs don’t have time to signal to our brains that we are full.
We hop out of bed in the morning to a strident alarm, often sleeping as late as possible, and rushing to get ready in the morning. People bustle from sleeping to waking, two very different brain states – rushing their children through showers and backpack-packing and lunch-packing and breakfast and into the car. We don’t pause to let our brains fully wake up, to gently process dreams and envision the day we want to have. We don’t sit quietly with a cup of tea and gaze at the sunrise, or the dew, or the opening flowers. Quick, quick, we tell ourselves – we must get to the job, clock in, and start to labor.
On the weekends, we attempt to cram most of our personal lives into two days. We clean our homes, we run our errands, we try to connect to our spouses and children and family and friends… we rush from this social event, scheduled activity, or child’s extracurricular to that one. No relaxing is allowed, life is too busy for this. There is too much living to cram in too small a window of time.
We pour activity over ourselves like turning the hose on full blast, day after day, week after week. Some of our babies and adolescents are flattened by the deluge. Some manage to cling on. We do it until our soil is eroded and we feel uprooted and unmoored and lost, deeply unsatisfied despite all our events, activities, material goods, and achievements. Our water table isn’t replenished, and we wonder why, deep down, we’re always thirsty.
Somehow, we have to resist a culture that strips us of our joy and peace, because joy and peace don’t increase our Gross Domestic Product much. We need to learn how to let our time collect and pool so that we can renew ourselves and care for others. We need to learn again how to live slowly: how to let our minutes and days trickle gently into the roots of our soul.