Life in slow motion
Updated: Mar 8
I’ve been thinking about writing about this concept for a few months, but I’ve been afraid that the feeling might pass. It is the most wonderful phenomenon. Some people refer to it as mindfulness, others are cuter and say it’s when you stop and smell the roses, but for me, it feels like life is moving in slow motion.
I am constantly amazed at how my senses take in more now that the work stress is off my back and fewer “windows” are open in my mind. Everything feels so heightened. I can barely take a walk outdoors without my camera - I am constantly finding objects and nature that I want to remember. With spring blossoms everywhere the signs of the seasons are making my head explode - and it is not just my allergies!
A top priority for me with retirement was to de-stress. What I did expect, was that I would sleep better, take more time to exercise and feel less urgency to get things done every day. What I did not expect was how much more I’d notice, how much slower I’d eat and enjoy the wonderful flavors, how much more I’d enjoy music and most profoundly, how much more I’d take away from conversations with friends and random people and where those conversations would lead.
Always in a hurry, life seemed airbrushed to me - I was often impatient to move activities along and had a bottomless to do list. I couldn’t bear waiting on hold and was typically ready to leave my destination as soon as I arrived. My shoulders were positioned a few floors up toward my ears. Sometimes, I was so wound up at night I needed to do shoulder relaxation exercises so that I could fall asleep. Although I had the ‘mindful' lyrics well rehearsed, I could barely walk the talk.
Well folks, in 6 quick months, all has changed. This slow motion feeling has only gotten better. I can’t believe how much life I have missed riding in the express lane! My idea bucket is brimming - all because I slowed down and let my mind explore. Whereas I used to hate cooking on weekdays after a long day at work, I now enjoy it and am frequently picking up fresh fish and vegetables at the market. Exercising daily is no longer an effort. I am always up for a nice walk.
It is now common for me to strike up conversations with people I cross paths with during the day. I've engaged telephone clerks who would have placed me on hold with conversation and that makes the waiting time fly. I know the life story of the immigrant gas attendant and how he works to help his English improve. And the supermarket clerk who is also struggling with the allergy season. I know that my phlebotomist's daughter (who is my granddaughter’s age) is beginning to develop and giving her mom a headache. They look to me, as I do to them, for a connection; and with it comes empathy and advice. My world of acquaintances has increased exponentially. For the first time in over thirty years, I am discovering the community in which I live.
One of the very best realizations, has been how much more engaged I am with my grandchildren as little people than I ever was with my own. I no longer have so many balls in the air distracting me. If we all want to play a game for a while, romp around or take a walk outside, we just do it. I can watch them at their sports and don’t need to worry about their dinner. I totally enjoy our connection. I choose now to savor it knowing how quickly they grow and change.
And the last observation is both little and big. It’s the power of a smile. It is the best ice breaker ever and every day it opens new doors. I always knew this at work, but never really saw it play out so well in the bigger world.
Because, as I have found, the natural reaction to a smile, it is to smile back! Then who knows what comes next!
Jane Rubin is the author of the memoir, Almost a Princess, My Life as a Two-Time Cancer Survivor available in most online bookstores. The royalties are donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.