I know I’m not the only one feeling the speediness of the pace of life, but in addition to the speed, what I’m experiencing these days feels also like an increasing number of situations calling for my attention. Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to juggle too many balls – or at least more than I can comfortably juggle!
I’m clear I don’t want a life where I try to control everything – been there, tried that! And trying to contain the rising fear that things will spin out of control by limiting myself to the familiar creates a humdrum routine that feels deadening for me. Do you know what I mean?!
Yet being caught up in a whirlwind of activity is not only exhausting, it triggers what I can feel is a deeply conditioned fear that fast is somehow ‘dangerous’. I have a clear memory from over 40 years ago. I was in nursing school, and my instructor was supervising me as I did my first ‘for real’ sterile dressing. As I was carefully (and s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y!) swabbing the wound she said to me “You know, Maralyn, being sterile does not necessarily mean being slow!” Even there, the association of slow with safety (and conversely speed with danger) was at work.
So the question I’ve been playing with is how do I create a new story here? How can I follow the call of my life with its increasing pace and complexity and still live in a way that’s true to me? In looking for a metaphor that could evoke the in-my-body sense I was looking for I explored a number of images – juggling, eye in the center of the storm, Sufi dancing – all of these had elements of what I wanted, but nothing felt just right.
|Murmuration (Official Video) by Sophie Windsor Clive & Liberty Smith
And then I remembered the amazing videos of a murmuration of starlings. Their gathering together in enormous numbers after having spent their days foraging in smaller numbers is awe inspiring. In determining places to roost they create these incredible patterns – swooping through the air with a grace and beauty (and speed!) that’s mind boggling. This flying around also increases their body temperatures which keep them warm overnight. How do they do this without crashing into each other?!
|Rush Hour Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
The mechanisms that allow these amazing changes in pattern almost in the same instant in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds are still not clear to us humans – so perhaps we’d do well to cut ourselves a bit of slack around our own inability to do this. The closest I’ve seen to this is the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City!Yet it does seem clear that at the individual level, attention and responsiveness to those in close relationships is key. The link for us seems to be responsive close relationships with our ‘big yesses’.
Years ago I listened to a Jack Canfield personal growth video where he spoke the notion of Ready, Fire, Aim. I’ve taken that to mean ground myself in those big yesses – the things that are core to my life – and take action, even when I’m not entirely certain of the outcome. Our interactions are so complex it’s simply not possible to always know the outcome will be, and waiting til I’m ‘certain’ is one of the ways I’ve historically kept myself and my life small.
What makes a different pattern possible is my remembering that if after being Ready, and Firing, I find I’m off course, I can adjust my Aim and Fire again. Or, as a friend of mine said when I was waffling about which highway we should take “Maralyn, this car has a steering wheel, if it’s not the way we want, we can turn it around!”
So I’ve been engaging even more intentionally, the practice of revisiting my sense of trajectory – how is it my life wants to express itself in every arena … is it/am I in this moment still on course? … do I need to change anything – in the short or long term?And loving myself through the sense of uncertainty and discomfort that for me comes with making changes in my deeply rooted old patterns … deepening my commitment and courage in expanding my capacity to dance more fluidly with speed and complexity.
What’s your experience? How do you dance with speed and complexity in life? I’d love to hear your thoughts on and experiences.