“So, when are you gonna write another blog post?” My sister asked, her back toward me as she washed dishes in the sink. Perched on my usual bar stool in her kitchen, I paused before answering her question. The truth was, I didn’t really know.
“I’ve had one rolling around in my head for a few weeks now,” I responded. And while that was true, there was more to it: I was unsure how to roll it out of my head and onto paper in complete colorful glory.
I didn’t really know what my soul had to say because it had been a while since I’d really asked.
When I first moved back home, I knew the inevitable “American grind” sitting in my future would be tempting to embrace wholeheartedly. Meaning: the busy, individualistic and fast paced flavor. I knew how quickly my fingers grabbed planners and scribbled them full, how my vocabulary translated “busy” to mean complete, content and worthy.
To remind myself of what’s important, I decided to make a vision board. I taped up phrases, quotes, pictures. I distinctly remember writing “busy does not equal worth” and “Sarah, God wants you to pursue him and stop chasing after the wind.”
So when my sister asked me about my writing–something I’ve allowed to collect dust on the back shelf of my mind–my vision board jumped into my, well, vision. It’s still hanging up by the way. I’ve gotten used to it just decorating an otherwise largely blank space.
Sadly, I’ve become a really good wind chaser. Like really good. To the point that even doctors appointments and small talk exchanges are enough to keep going (my social life is still growing ok?).
And perhaps for so long I haven’t seen anything wrong with this until I actually stop and think about it–heaven forbid having down time–because everyone around me seems to be doing the same.
“I’ve been so busy,” we exclaim with a dramatic sigh. “I’m so tired,” we reply when asked how we’re doing. Because I’m not the only one who believes that “busy” and “tired” are the equivalent of successful and wholesome.
But really such statements are surface value answers protecting wounds underneath. “I’m so busy,” could mean a smattering of things:
I’m overcommitted and don’t know how to say no because I fear I’ll lose people in my life.
The only way I keep myself together is by filling my schedule. If there’s any white space for breathing, I fear I’ll fall apart when left alone.
I need help, but I don’t know how to ask, so I’m just going to keep plowing my way through life.
The cries for deeper connection are endless–and they are there. I’m one to know, having used these surface answers too consistently lately.
* * *
Last week as I sped up to enter the freeway entrance, I coincidentally had the thought, “Sarah, maybe this whole time was supposed to have been about rest. You haven’t really been good at that lately.”
As most sane writers do, I agreed with my inner self. But I kept driving. The time and my schedule didn’t permit me to stop and have a healthy existential discovery on the side of the freeway.
It took me until today, sitting in a zero gravity chair at the chiropractor’s office, to realize that twenty minutes of “forced” rest goes by incredibly fast. Both my body and my mind desperately craved more.
I didn’t want to get up. My dreams danced before my closed eyelids. I thought about new things to add to the book I will one day get around to finishing. Who I’d dedicate it to.
Is it funny or pathetic how being forced to relax at a chiropractor’s office is the only way we stop going?
* * *
The other night I watched three sisters sing and harmonize every molecule of their imperfect beings, and it reminded me of days and times and seasons where I had done the same. Where I had poured every fraction of myself into something.
And ironically enough, none of those memories were of the past few months, the months packed with busyness.
It reminded me of the stars in Botswana.
I didn’t recognize their stars, and the sky was enchanting and new. I remember claiming a spot on the gravel driveway with a well loved lawn chair and curling my feet up under me. My imagination was wild, fearful of the poisonous snakes that could slither out of their hiding places while I, the innocent stargazer, became their prey.
But I also remember how disconnected I was from everything worlds away. I had no wifi, no media, no one but who I was physically with. I laughed with girls who had become sisters to me. We cried over our brokenness, but also the grace that abounds still more. We feared the snakes together, and shared whispered thoughts underneath the canopy of brand new stars.
Life in Botswana was so slow, painfully at times. But I was present.
White space on a calendar wasn’t even a topic worth discussing then. You simply lived, relationships being the priority.
That was over two years ago.
Today I’m easily immersed back into my American culture, just another individual at a coffee shop table. I wrestle with whether I should completely delete my Instagram account, because it just adds more unhealthy comparison and wasted time to my already fast life. I’m more “connected” than I’ve ever been. But am I present here? Am I able–no, willing and desiring–to stop and take time to notice the stars I actually do recognize?
Yes, struggling to delete an Instagram account is a fairly trivial decision in comparison to some on the other side of the planet, but to us it’s a valid and very real deal. It’s our world here. As is fighting to fill white space and hoping to find wholeness and happiness.
We may not have to wonder where our next meal is coming from, but I sure do wonder if we’ll ever experience the relational depth I did under those African stars.
This isn’t what I intended to say to my sister in response to her question about my next blog post. But as I preach to myself here, I’ll remind you too: don’t chase after the wind.
Sit under stars and ask your soul how it’s doing. You haven’t for some time, and it really misses you.
Paint something. Buy a stranger a coffee. Remember the feeling of that person’s head on your shoulder, whether it’s your baby niece or your significant other. Don’t forget the beauty of such a small and intentional moment.
Slow down. Take a breath. Instagram–and your schedule–won’t break if you choose to step back every once in a while.