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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Slowing Down

After dinner tonight I was in the kitchen doing the dishes, when Hugh came up behind me and grabbed onto my legs from behind, clearly trying to get my attention. So, I dried my hands and bent down to his level and we looked in each others' eyes. Pretty soon I was tickling him in his most ticklish spots (his neck and under his arms) and he was giggling away with his head thrown back. That was about when Marc announced from the living room that Ben was coming to join in the kitchen fun. I was laying down flat on my back on the kitchen floor with Hugh trying to tickle my tummy and Ben trying to squirm away from me tickling him in his most ticklish spots (just under his chin and his belly).

It was one of those moments of pure joy, when time seems to pause for just a moment and I was lucky enough to have the right frame of mind to pause long enough to capture it. Unfortunately I know I don't always do that, but I've decided to change that.

I'm guilty of getting distracted with other things. There are times when I look at the luxuries and technological advances we have at our fingertips, and I just wonder whether or not we're really better off. There are advantages, sure. But, I can't help but wonder what kind of damage the disadvantages could potentially cause us, as individuals, as families, and as a world-wide community.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article in USA Today about The Slow-Family Movement. It was my kind of article. My whole soul totally resonated with the ideas, the arguments, the whole philosophy of slowing down, spending time together as a family, simplifying schedules and eliminating extra distractions that come in all different forms.

Of course, if I'm being completely honest, if given the chance I would jump at the opportunity to live in the woods with the likes of Thoreau, just to experience life stripped down to it's barest essentials.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." - Henry David Thoreau

I know that kind of experience might not appeal to everyone, but reading that makes me itch with the desire to detach from modernity, only to then be able to better attach myself to what's really important in life.

It seems like there's a trend that has snow-balled through the last couple of decades of parents signing their child(ren) up for every possible activity - soccer, ballet, football, painting, piano, hip hop, violin, baseball, yada, yada, yada. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of being active and having an active lifestyle, as well as exploring new interests and developing talents. But, I cringe at the thought of my life, and especially the life of my child(ren), revolving around activities that take up every spare moment of the day.

I'm already taking mental notes of the personalities of my boys and trying to be aware of where they have natural strengths and interests. It's important to me to provide opportunities for them to develop and explore and dive into whatever activities that mean the most to them. It's avoiding the trap of getting them overly involved in more than is necessary. The unnecessary is what will replace what could and should be reserved for time spent as a family.

I suppose it might be as simple as making a conscious effort to have a well-balanced schedule that includes quality family time and quality personal time spent exploring and developing talents and interests. I think the key is being aware of what is most important for our family and making sure we work hard to keep those important things as the top priorities.

I think there's something to this message from Simon & Garfunkel: "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the moment last."

I'm hoping so much to do just that. Slow down, enjoy every stage of my little family, and really make these moments last.


Mandi said...

Amen, Amen, and AMEN! It's funny because I've been thinking a lot of those same things lately!

Kaija said...

yes yes yes!!!