For most of this week I've been sick in bed. After my whirlwind weekend that included a Halloween party on Friday, my first show ever on Saturday, and an all-day art class in Berkeley on Sunday, I totally fell apart. And I knew it was coming.
For weeks before the event, I got messages to slow down. When asked to choose an image of my ideal self in a class a couple weeks ago, I chose the image of a peaceful river, much like the one above. I want to flow easily and calmly, but my life feels like a class-five whitewater adventure.
I was also drawn to read The Tao of Pooh, a book all about just being and not making too much effort. The message sank in, but only into the surface layers of my psyche. It didn't seem to get to my inner overachiever.
In meditation I heard messages to slow down. I even saw animals in real life, like the night heron, who live slowly and quietly, and while seeing them made a huge impression, apparently their message did not sink in enough to get me to really slow down.
And so, I burned the candle at both ends until I burned out. At least I have learned enough to give myself rest when I need it. I have done almost nothing to prepare for my show this weekend and homework was ignored. I only went to work one day. And that was difficult for me. But now I see if I don't slow down for good, I might not make it to December with a healthy mind and body.
Why is it so hard for me to slow down? I have an inner drive that is insatiable. It runs at such high velocity out of fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not living up to expectations (and the expectations in my head are far more grandiose than the expectations anyone else could come up with for me). Fear of not doing everything exactly right. And while I can say the show on Saturday was a success, the aftermath was not worth it.
I also know this drive comes from a need to control everything in my life. I tend to be the person who holds on tightly to everything rather than letting life flow gently through my fingers. I am declaring here and now that I'm going to make a conscious effort to focus on serenity and flow from now on.
I've recently discovered that the snowy owl is my new animal guide (during the fabulous art class in Berkeley this weekend). The snowy owl does a lot of sitting and waiting, preparing for just the right moment to act. It does not do anything that isn't necessary and it takes its time. In one book I read, the author said this leads some scientists to label the bird "lazy." But I can see now that this owl knows about conserving its energy for when it's really needed. And I can definitely use that knowledge to make my life a bit more sane.