One of my frustrations when Marco and I were in the early stages of our relationship was his walking speed. I know, I hear you, there are more serious problems a couple can have! But, this was one of the things that annoyed me. I would often say, “can you walk faster?” I remember one sultry summer evening in Cremona, strolling slowly with friends on a steamy August night. Stopping every five or ten yards to talk. Walking the Corso, a short stretch of shopping in the historic downtown. I felt I would fall to the ground we were walking so slow, and, that it would never end!
A bit of the Corso in Cremona
I prided myself on how fast I could walk. I thought it was just how I was made. On to the next thing! Get to where I’m going before anyone else. Get through college. Get the Master’s. Get the best job. Get the Doctorate. Get to the finish line. . . fast!!!
An article I read recently spoke about a shift in language that is happening. At one time, part of the pleasantry in our greeting of one another was a response of “well!” when asked, “how are you?” Now, it is very common to hear the response “busy!” The difference, the article pointed out, was not that “busy” wasn’t used as a response in the past, but that “busy” now is synonymous with “doing well!”
Another article speaks about multi-tasking. It is a trait bragged about in many work settings. . . “I can multi-task.” This article is making the claim that we need to take a closer look at this and ask ourselves if multi-tasking really does afford us the ability to get more done. And is the quality of the work worth it? We are, perhaps, missing opportunities in our busy work-a-day world to stop and focus our efforts on one task and do it well. We have few, if any, times to allow our brains to be creative. We may be missing out on quality results while thinking. . . “as long as everyone is busy!”
Over the years, I adapted to Marco’s walking speed. I enjoy our slow strolls through Salem. We look forward to our time in Italy when we know that a slow pace is one of the main goals of our vacation. We definitely have times when the pace is fast, whether at work or home, but, we create the times of focussed attention as well.
Italian lifestyle is not my only tutor in slowing my speed. About the time I met Marco, I began a Yoga practice that continues today. Yoga and meditation facilitates the focussed attention that allows the body, mind, and spirit to rest and renew. In addition, I studied some of the literature on mindfulness. A recent conference I attended on mindfulness and psychotherapy further explores how many of our psychological challenges can be treated by mindfulness approaches to life.
In our family, we try to find ways to live our Italian lifestyle and enjoy a mindful approach to life. Simple ideas that are probably closer to how our grandparents lived: eating at least one sit-down, home-cooked meal every day, no television or other electronics while we are eating together, a Sunday outing where we do something as a family that affords us the ability to be moving our bodies, scheduled vacations where relaxation is a prime goal of the time, and unscheduled “down” times. We don’t always succeed at our mindful approach. . . but as we say in yoga. . . it’s a practice!