The muffler on my car stopped muffling. In fact, it fell off completely, making the most horrendous noise as I left it behind.
Back when I wrote about simple living here and here, I was considering reducing the use of my car. I could, I thought, keep the car but behave as if I didn’t have it. But considering and actually doing are different. I have developed the habit of hopping into my car whenever I please without much thought about necessity or economy. The simple truth is that I am usually in a hurry, either rushing to the bank or racing the post office hoping I might find something to put into the bank. I drive to clients’ homes to do bookkeeping, and I drive to marinas to work on boats. I drive and I drive.
But the day the muffler fell off changed all of that rushing. When I had some work to do at a local garden and I decided to bicycle there… a ten-mile round trip along the highway, and thankfully, a shift happened before I even went out the door. I remembered the idea of timelessness, letting go of my usual drill sergeant attitude toward the clock. Hey, I reasoned, I’m self-employed and the when of my work is totally up to me. What would happen if I simply did the next thing WITHOUT looking at the time? What if I stretched out my living to include those resting places that I crave?
By the time I was heading uphill on my bicycle, I was awake to my surroundings, newly committed to enjoying the ride. I heard crows and mourning doves and pileated woodpeckers. I smelled rain freshened air. I saw interesting items by the side of the road: a spackling knife, a colorful stocking hat, a warped board resting in the grass. I felt the burning muscles in my thighs and let the steady rhythm of pedalling be my mantra for timelessness. I abandoned ambition.
Slowing down takes such a conscious effort, although the rewards are great. I enjoy increased satisfaction in the rote actions of my days. Emails become adventures; prepping canvas boat covers become an act of creativity; bookkeeping becomes a delightful scorekeeping game. But this total immersion in my moments is difficult to sustain. Eventually, I find myself sneaking a peek at the clock and feeling anxious. So much to do, so little time…