Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!

April 15, 2012

Imagine taking an entire day off. No cell phone. No one calling your name. No computer. No client calls. No children begging for ice cream. Just you, yourself, and, well, YOU!

Yesterday I declared a sabbatical from my every day life and headed for the hills. Well, not really. I first headed for the woods. In fact, I left my iPhone, with little battery power left, behind. After an hour power walk, I went to the gym to enjoy the sauna and a hot, albeit short, shower. Browsing the supermarket aisles for a snack, I took my time with no real purpose or timeline. I even waited patiently in line while two women and a two-year-old unloaded their heavy shopping cart onto the conveyor belt. I had two items, but didn’t mind just standing there soaking in my surroundings. What an fabulous feeling not to try to squeeze time like an orange!

I missed the train to Munich so had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. So what. I called my husband with 30% left on my iPhone battery to say I’d be home in the evening or later, in case I found a movie I liked.

When I finally got to my destination, thousands of people rushed to and fro. Seeking refuge (and warmth) in a bookstore, I sat amongst the others on a long bench made for book lovers who just want to focus on one thing: the book or magazine they were reading. I found a book on burnout, which felt purposeful enough as I am doing research for a new book on it myself.

It was there that I realized how tiring a purpose-driven life can be. When we do everything on purpose, with focus and intention, we have no real time for Bacchalian enjoyment. To do a thing simply because we want to resides outside the realm of our vocabulary. In our achievement-oriented society, having a ‘be’ day seems extravagent indeed.

But it was just the thing I needed after a string of successive achievements. When we keep our eyes on accomplishment only,  we have no time to recuperate. With all our time spent on going for the gold, we find our worth only in the doingness of things instead of realizing just being is more than enough.

Did you know you will continue to exist — that is, to be — even when you don’t ‘do’?

Where did our drive for constant activity come from? According to the book I just read, Warum Burnout Nicht Vom Job Kommt by Helen Heinemann (in nearly one sitting – it was that good), burnout comes from the blurring of the lines around our specific roles in public and private life. If we live with uncertainty as to where my role begins and, say, my partner’s ends, we are left with a domain over which we will combat. Combine the lack of clarity with a lack of pause to reconsider which direction each of us should go and a wildfire ensues. Each of us, running as fast as we can, toward an ill-defined end goal can lead to burnout faster than you can say, “Call 911!”

Slowing down and taking pause really do help because in those pockets of air we allow ourselves come the solutions to many of our issues we otherwise quickly try to sweep under the carpet.

Take the Slow Challenge and call a whole day off for yourself. What do you think you’ll discover?

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9 Responses to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!”

  1. mightywarrior Says:

    Christine, you lead by example. To quote from your Power of Slow book, ” Time is the organizing principle of our lives. In our personal experience, time is something very real. We needn’t fight something we can’t control. What we can do is embrace the opportunity to spend our timethe best we can” Yeah, why not have some time off for myself…it’s my reward!

  2. mightywarrior Says:

    Wow! Christine, that is so brave, adventurous and admirable. You sure do lead by example. It is true that most of us believe being busy every minute of the day is a sign of success. What you also say in your Power of Slow Book, ” We needn’t fight something we can’t control. What we can do is embrace the opportunity to spend our time the best we can. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for all the times I spent with you in Germany. I’ve learnt some of my greatest lessons in life. Thanks to you, those precious days are indelibly etched in my mind and will remain in my heart forever. You are a real treasure and a gift to mankind. Your wit and your wisdom have shown us how to reset our metronomes and reinvent our lives. I am seriously inspired to take the slow challenge and call a whole day off for myself. It’s my reward!!!

  3. powerofslow Says:

    I thought of you when I was in Munich!


  4. WOW! This is one of those synchronous moments, where you stop and realise that across the hemisphere’s from South to North, Munich (?) to Johannesburg (South Africa), there is a common thinking. We posted on the same topic together, on the same day. I know it’s an independant meeting of minds, cause I wrote my post late Sunday night and hadn’t recieved your blog post till the morning! I had a slow weekend you had a slow day, but together we both sought to publicise this because it’s meaningful to us. I hope as I’m sure that you do that others reading our blogs, hear the message that there is a different way of thinking and being, one that allows us to create space instead fill it.

  5. powerofslow Says:

    That is so awesome, John! Greetings from Munich!!

  6. mightywarrior Says:

    It’s always the mediocre people who are negative, who spend their
    time proving that they’re not wrong. The willingness to listen, the patience to understand, the strength to support, the heart to care and just to be there, that is the beauty of who you are. Thank you for being here. You are appreciated.

  7. mightywarrior Says:

    Reblogged this on You Can Have it too! and commented:
    I couldn’t agree more with this. The more comfortable I get with being uncomfortable, the faster I grow. When you’re moving forward and making progress, you will feel uncomfortable, and that’s okay.

  8. powerofslow Says:

    I am honored by your friendship, Donald. Thank you ever so much for your patience, love and care for those around you. We share so many things – we change the world every day. The question is in which direction?

    Kind regards, Christine


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