The Art of Laying Low
If you know me, you would know that I always keep busy. I move quickly though my day from one obligation to the next because it keeps me moving forward and makes me feel accomplished.
When the pandemic hit, I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. No Marshalls. No late night bar hopping in South End. No visitors in the apartment. No nothing.
During this time I had to learn to make due with the things I had, and I had to communicate with people and coworkers virtually.
My sister became pregnant during the pandemic, and I couldn’t visit her. My friends were all supposed to graduate college, and their graduations got cancelled. I was supposed to go on a few trips, but they all got pushed. Oh and to top it all off, my childhood cat died. Things just weren’t looking good.
By combining all of these mishaps and the civil unrest in the world, I just felt a sense of restlessness and anxiousness to just do something. I wanted to do anything I could to keep busy and to divert my focus from what was going around me. It was all so much to handle, but I couldn’t do anything. My options were limited.
Things worsened as April trickled into May. As many of you know, the pandemic hit a little close to home when I contracted the virus, and I took a turn for the worse. My body didn’t deal with the virus well and the doctors were worried about my lungs scan results. Around day 12 of having COVID-19, I was admitted to the ER with no hope for a cure. Being hospitalized and on death’s corner made me really begin to reflect on my life as a whole. Why didn’t I choose to live in my hometown to be close to Mom? Why did I give so much of myself to people who didn’t care about me? Why didn’t I live while I could?
These questions near what I thought was my end gave me a wake up call. If I got out of the grasps of COVID alive, I needed to change the way I was living life.
(Of course, I’m writing this so I lived through it to tell the tale. I was part of a clinical trial, so I believe that is what saved my life in May.)
But, back to the worries I felt in the hospital. Those worries were real. I had always told myself that I would’ve lived a full life by the time I reached my death bed so I wouldn’t have any regrets. But, I assumed I wouldn’t die until I was 70+... They always say that you should live everyday like it’s your last, but how often do we actually follow that motto?
I decided from that day forward I wanted to live life fully. I wanted to experience life to the fullest degree I could. But, what would that look like?
Here’s a plot twist answer that you won’t expect. I didn’t find my answer in keeping busy. I found it in slowing down. Yes. You heard that right. Slowing down.
This wasn’t an instant revelation on my part right after healing. I actually didn’t come to realize the truth in this until these last few weeks. (And it’s now September! Yikes. Time has flown by.)
I picked up the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist, and it’s already transformed the way I live. She couldn’t have said it better. But the author wrote, “My regrets: how many years I bruised people with my fragmented, anxious presence. How many moments of connection I missed — too busy, too tired, too frantic and strung out on the drug of efficiency.”
I had been living my whole life hooked on this so called drug of efficiency. How quickly could I get through this conversation to hop to the next thing? How quickly can I wash my hair and shower, so I can rush over to meet a friend at their house in less than 30 min.? How many bars can we hit before the 2 a.m. lights come on? Go. Go. Go. Do. Do. Do. But, why? What’s the purpose of rushing head first through life?
There wasn’t a purpose. I was just going full speed and stuffing my days to the brim because I could. Now that isn’t a way to live.
What used to be days full of rushing have now been replaced with days full of intentionally having no plans, engagements, or errands. I’ve gotten to savor conversations more to really connect with those I love. I’ve gotten to lay on the ground in the hallway to listen to the rain just because of the mere fact that it’s soothing to listen to. I’ve listened to my body more, and I’ve taken more walks and hikes to counteract my sedentary 9-5 lifestyle. By laying low, I’ve gotten to better connect with my environment, those around me, and most importantly myself.
So if you are a “busy bee” like I was, I encourage you to make small changes to slow it down a bit.
Are you tempted to just throw a TV dinner in the microwave for tonight’s meal just to call it a day? Try to cook a homemade meal on the stove top instead. It forces you to slow down and create something delicious.
Are you thinking about planning to do something every night after work? Say “no” to a few of those plans. (I give you permission to say no.) You don't always have to plan out all of your days.
Do some of the things you love doing. Take time for yourself. Sit down and simmer in the big and small moments. Realize it’s okay to lay low and just be. It’s in those moments that you’ll witness all that life has to offer.