Now that I am a relative lady of leisure – I haven’t worked less than 40 hours a week EVER – I find that life is a lot less stressful.
Hurrying comes naturally to me, but this last month has been much kinder on my schedule. I love everything I do and still have time to exercise, which shouldn’t be confused with me saying that I’m getting all the exercise I need every day.
I do take a long fast walk or swim six days a week, with my Apple watch monitoring my progress and chiding me into completing my “circles.” On the seventh day, I rest, ignoring my watch and even taking it off early in the evening.
But all of that is a long road to the point of this column, which is more about being present than being fit. When I’m walking, I’m looking around and listening, letting my brain wander even as I monitor my heartrate and speed to make sure I’m checking my exercise box for the day.
This morning, I listened to the birds. They are delightfully noisy at this time of year, or maybe they’re always noisy but my brain used to be too full of everything else to hear them. My old life was very busy – so busy that I was too busy to notice that I was too busy. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t work two or three jobs, when I wasn’t throwing myself in multiple directions.
Yes, we needed the money. But I also like to work, something that not everything can fathom. I like producing, having a purpose, making a difference. I like wearing my “work hat” to interact with people, whether it’s as a reporter, lifeguard or swim instructor.
And then I like going home.
It’s the contrast, I believe, a kind of work high, like I used to get after a long run back in the days when I had knees that weren’t talking louder than the birds on my morning walk. Old knees have a lot to say and people with young knees just don’t believe that. I didn’t as I ran through mile after mile of Illinois cornfields in my 20s and 30s.
I’m glad I got all those miles in back then. You live the best life you can live at that moment if you’re doing things right.
But, back to the birds.
I don’t know which ones were singing or whether they are really conversing. Maybe they are yelling at each other to stay out of each other’s space or having domestic squabbles. Listening was like strolling through the international terminal of an airport, where you are surrounded by the rise and fall of conversations you can’t quite understand.
I probably wouldn’t have heard the birds talking if I had been talking. If my phone had been pressed to my ear or if I’d been playing a podcast through its speaker. That’s what I did when I didn’t have time. I layered activities on top of each other to fit everything in and filter everything else out.
Now, my world is more spacious. I can hear it and, in the relative silence, I can hear myself.
I have a lot of catching up to do.
Enjoyed this message a lot!