Usually, I have a long to-do list, a calendar that others gasp at, astonished, a full schedule of fun and activity, quiet and family time, all in one day.
Cooking, teaching, parenting, planning, cleaning, organizing, paying bills, shopping, reading, exercise, meditation, journaling, chatting, loving, singing and dancing, all the delightful things that make a mother, a woman, and a person.
Then today I looked up at my calendar – a dry erase checkerboard on the wall usually covered in purple, and until a week ago, it was. Now the spaces are empty, except for the occasional celebration, weekly online classes for each of us.
Things have moved to a slower pace. My children tell me the days are going slowly, is it really only Wednesday?
I’m watching myself – usually a rabid environmentalist, we have disposable wipes for the doorknobs. I watch the water flow as I wash my hands, notice the soap level reduce.
I raid my saved stash of restaurant napkins for nose blowing, and eye the packaged foods we are eating. I turn the thermostat down, then up again as the day gets chilly.
Still. We are not driving, except the occasional grocery trip.
Travel is off the table, not to mention all the energy turned off at school and my husband’s office. Our laptops are on, but the phones are mostly away. We spend a solid hour and a half each day of “quiet time,” and more outdoors, playing or walking.
We connect online with those we don’t even get around to usually, though we could have then, and at least we do now.
We drop our shoulders, shed our tears, hold one another, and breathe.
The days are, indeed, slow.
And slow is what our planet needs now – the vacation we never take, the staycation we need, the grounding of our busy lives, the slower pace we must all take in a future we know is coming anyway.
This is just an early warning system, I tell myself – this is a test, this is just a test. Will we face the struggles of our future with fear, tension, hoarding, and isolation?
Or will we look inward, connect, reach out, help one another? Can we walk ourselves back to a place that is not only one we must, but which we choose?
We have been banning busy for so long, we might have forgotten that it’s not only a pushing away, but a walking towards.
We pivot, we turn, we choose, even when we didn’t choose – a slow life, togetherness, silence, balance, and an empty calendar.
And we gasp, astonished.
Rani Jayakumar is a member of The Abundant Mama Wake Up & Thrive Network. She is a mom of two children, a mindfulness and music educator, an environmental advocate and someone who believes in the power of optimism and kindness. She lives in California.