Today was biscuit day at my daughters’ school. The students can come to school early and buy biscuits to help out the marching band. We weren’t super early to school this morning, but we weren’t running late either. Apparently we were too late for biscuits, though, as they were all out by the time we got to school. But I wanted to make sure my children got breakfast, most important meal of the day and all, so I took them to the McDonald’s drive thru.
Well, I learned a lesson about decisions (as well as Atlanta geography!) this morning. I learned that after you pass my kids’ school, you are officially in Atlanta rush hour traffic. It took me 30 minutes to get to the McDonald’s, whereas it normally takes about two. I also learned that if you make a bad decision, even if it is a small one, it can have bigger consequences. The kids were late to school, and I was on a collision course with a bad day.
Sideways is one of my favorite movies in recent memory. The film features a character named Miles, played by Paul Giamatti. Miles has lived a normal but unsatisfied life. His thinly veiled rage at his circumstances combine with the events of the film to push him over the edge. Miles then goes to what I call the Crazy Place. In the film he pitches a couple of raging (and hilarious!) fits. I relate to Miles as much or more than any other film character. Because I feel that at any given time, I am only one or two bad decisions or events away from going to the Crazy Place myself. Believe me – the Crazy Place is no fun in real life. Now granted, to people on the outside, it probably is pretty funny. I’m just glad there’s not a film crew around or they’d be making a comedy movie about me.
My friend Jeff Goins has been running a challenge the last couple of weeks. He’s encouraged his readers to take walks, enjoy meals, and focus on things that matter. Through participating in the challenge, I have been reminded of the importance of listening to my life. In doing so, not only can I stay away from this Crazy Place, but I can also live from a deeper place of belonging.
Before I listen to my life, though, sometimes I need to listen to my own music.
I love it when the message of a Third Day song applies to what I’m going through. Slow Down, off our Revelation album, has probably reflected where I am for over five years now. Not that I would have noticed. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always loved the song. Musically, it rocks. It was the song on Revelation that acted as the “musical center”, and was a blast to play live on that tour.
But I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics. Even though I should have.
Tell me to slow down.
Lately I’ve started really trying to pay attention to things. The first thing to notice is your own body and the message it has to tell you. Heather Sellers has pointed out that when you have a day where you can’t get anything going (she calls it being “blank and cranky”) your body is trying to tell you that you are working overtime. If you don’t take a break, pretty soon you will get sick. Your body will MAKE you take a break. Upon first reading that, I glossed over it. But I have noticed a lot of truth in it. When I get colds 4 or 5 times a year, including in the summertime, something is out of balance. So I’ve tried to slow down physically.
I don’t want to let go.
If you begin with the physical, you will inevitably encounter the spiritual. That’s because normally we live life at such a pace that we don’t even notice the spiritual side of things. If we slow down physically, we will begin to pay attention to the spiritual. And whereas our physical bodies are often telling us to slow down, there needs to be a letting go in the spiritual dimension. We die to ourselves, and in doing so we focus on what matters.
In his book Anam Cara, John O’Donohue has some great words on this idea of letting go:
When you begin to let go, it is amazing how enriched your life becomes. False things, which you have desperately held on to, move away very quickly from you. Then what is real, what you love deeply, and what really belongs to you comes deeper into you. Now no one can ever take them away from you.
Here are a few ideas to help you “slow down” and “let go.”
- Join me in Jeff’s Slow Down Challenge.
- Take time today to take a walk. Even if it’s for just five minutes.
- Start a journal, and write in it. This is the best way to listen to your life, and could be the only “discipline” you ever need.
Do you have any thoughts about slowing down and letting go? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments.