by Ian Doescher
That’s what life feels like lately. Does it feel the same to you? Here’s an example: October 7-8 I was out of town for a brief trip to Washington state for two days. I was home Friday, October 9, working a full day. On Saturday the 10th I flew to the east coast for a series of events, still working full time during the days. I flew home Friday evening the 16th. Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th I had all-day rehearsals for a show that my son Liam and I are in. Saturday night my wife and I had tickets to a concert, Sunday night I had a singing engagement that I do once a month. Monday the 19th I was back at work, and that night had *another* rehearsal for the show. In other words, for close to two weeks I was not only gone from home a LOT, but was also putting in something like 14-hour days of work and/or activities, and sleeping 6 or 7 hours a night. Did I mention I don’t drink coffee?
Does life feel like this to you sometimes, too? I’m sure it does. Being busy, being active, being industrious, all of it can feel like a necessary compulsion. We’re rewarded, in our culture, for talking about how busy we are, how crazy our life is. There’s a sense of familiarity, of understanding and shared humanity, that comes with asking someone, “How are you?” and hearing, “Oh, things are CRAZY right now.” “I know, right?” Imagine if you asked someone, “How are you?” and heard the response, “I am utterly at peace. I’ve just spent the last four days contemplating the beauty of a rosebud.” I’d probably think they were wasting their time, though deep down I would envy them deeply.
Maybe this is just my own experience. Maybe you don’t keep your life as busy as you do. If that’s true, I congratulate you! Some days it feels like I started working hard when I was 13, and things haven’t let up much since then. Social media doesn’t help the situation. Most of us put our best selves on Facebook and Twitter — as I wrote in an earlier blog post, in our social lives we all tend to be charming, clever and successful. While I love my friends dearly, this sense that everyone else’s life is pretty awesome doesn’t help my sense that I need to keep on doing things, keep on trucking, keep on gogogogogogogogogogogogogogoing.
Occasionally, something hits me and stops me in my tracks. These are lovely moments when I’m forced out of my usual busy-ness. Usually, it’s something of incredible beauty or truth that does the trick. I’ll give you two examples here.
- The concert I mentioned above, that my wife and I went to on October 17th, was a group called Anonymous 4. This is a group of four women who got together in the mid-1980s to see what Medieval chant would be like when sung by women’s voices. Something like 20 albums and 2 million record sales later, Anonymous 4 is known for the ethereal, pure beauty of their music. I often listen to their recordings at work, to keep peace in my head amid the swirl of the busy day. They are on their final tour now, having decided to retire as a group. Seeing them live for the first time (and, unless they change their mind, the last) was simply amazing. Their music is so simple, yet so lovely. You don’t have to be into chant to like them, either — their recordings span all kinds of time periods and traditions, including three CDs of early American music. Want to have a listen? Head over to their website.
- My family and I are reading a book called Wonder together. Wonder is the story of Auggie, a boy with a combination of diseases that has left his face terribly deformed. Other than that, he is a normal 11-year-old boy. Wonder tells the tale of his first experience in a public school (having been home schooled to that point), and how other students, teachers, adults and so on expose their complex emotions. It is not only a beautiful book, it is an incredibly TRUE book. I was almost in tears as my wife read one scene while we were driving out to Hood River this past Saturday (note: crying and driving not recommended). If you have more time and are looking for your next book, I highly recommend it.
My point? I don’t know. Maybe having a point to your blog articles is just part of that need to be busy and successful. 🙂 Or maybe the point is just that in the midst of our crazy lives, it’s a good idea to seek out beauty, peace and stillness every now and then. Even if all you do is go back to the chaos afterward. I believe it’s the moments when we stop that recharge us for the moments where we are going hard. You owe it to yourself — I owe it to myself.