Living in a city like Calgary, it is so easy for me to get caught up in the rat race. For me the rat race is wrapped up in the insidious and powerful magnetic draw to get one’s worth from how much activity I accomplish or from what I do. It is the subtle pressure to go faster, so I can get more done and feel better about myself at the end of the day.
It’s being addicted to that surge of addrenaline that is pumped into your body when one is running around with to much to do and to little time to get it all done. It is that notion that one is indispensable and that God or someone else needs me on His or their dream team to do all this important stuff. Hillary of Tours, a mystic from bygone days, described it this way: “a blasphemous anxiety to do the work of God for Him.”
Yet on the other hand I hate rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off. I hate that feeling of being wound up so tight you’re ready to snap at any driver that cuts you off. Some days I want to run to the mountains, build a log cabin, and live off the land…of course it would be nice to bring a few creaturely comforts from the city along, like Starbucks:) I crave peace and rest even in the midst of the normal demands of life. So how does one walk out serenity without fleeing from the city and living the life of a recluse in a monastery or log cabin?
One habit or discipline that I’m learning to practice as a daily way of detoxing from the ‘need to do’ and the ‘pace of the city’ is to take time each day to stop and drink in the beauty found all around me, yes even in the city…to gaze on the glorious colours when light is refracted through an icicle hanging from my roof, to enjoy the mystery of a full moon by stopping to stare deeply, to bask in the life giving warmth of the sun by sitting for a few moments on our deck, and by lingering to soak in the smile of a friend.
Here is peom I love that sums it up:
by W. H. Davies
What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight, streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to to wait till her mouth can, enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.
What do you do to detox from the rat race? How do you detach yourself from the voices that say your worth is determined by what you do or produce?
Learning to be a contemplative activist,