It’s a rare week when all of the components of well-being feel neatly balanced. Life just isn’t that neat. It’s messy, sometimes calling us to push way harder in one realm than the rest, and sometimes offering us the space to soak much more deeply into another. One week might be about working late into the night, and the next might be about fitting in three morning trail runs and seeing the first glimpse of sunlight peeking above the skyline. One week might be about barely scrambling eggs and avocado for dinner, and another might be about cooking Pinteresting meals. One week our breath may come quickly, and the next it may slow down. Just like our lives do.
And this is all okay. It’s real. It’s unavoidable. But as I close out a sprinting week — an “oh-my-gosh-my shirt-is-on-backwards-today” and “my daughter is walking around with scissors” sort of sprinting week — I’m taking a bit of time tonight to pause. To recalibrate. To recharge. As part of this, I re-read a commencement speech Anna Quindlen wrote a few years ago, and I saved in my “inspire” folder. Reading the whole speech is worth it, but here are a few highlights:
“You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul….So I suppose the best piece of advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: get a life….Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger….Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present….Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work….Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia star bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take the money you would have spent on beers in a bar and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Tutor a seventh-grader….All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough….Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.“
I hope this inspires you as you look to the weekend ahead to look for those glittering moments. I know mine will continue to exist within work deadlines and the logistics of everyday life, but by reminding myself that they’re there, I’m hoping I’ll notice them a little bit more.
Photo by Dawn Ashley via Flickr Creative Commons.