I used to live for Spring Break! There was nothing in the world like it. Fun on the beach with my friends. Staying out into the early morning hours. Sleeping in some of the most run down motels you could imagine. But we didn’t care! We were young, dumb, and happy.
For 7 days the world stopped and became our playground. We were present in the moment. We didn’t have cell phones, Facebook, or Instagram. We weren’t wondering what others were doing. For 7 days… the only thing that mattered was right here, right now!
Something strange happened along the way… I grew up!
Like most people in society, my mindset shifted from being care free and just having fun to positioning myself for success. I wanted to get ahead in life. I thought that meant putting aside everything fun and relaxing in pursuit for something better. I thought that meant outworking everyone around you. Getting in early and staying late to put in a few more hours than others.
My thoughts… they were correct. I have achieved a lot in my short career. I’ve been to a lot of cool places and seen a lot of amazing things. And with the majority of my life still in my windshield… there is no telling where this journey will lead me.
But over this past week, while on my kids Spring Break, I noticed some things about myself. Some lessons I needed to learn and most importantly… some things I needed to unlearn. Here they are:
The pace I am running is not a sustainable pace.
I have known this for a while but have been afraid to stop. After all, it’s the pace that I have ran that has gotten me so far along on this journey. Or at least that’s what I thought. I burnt the candles at both ends leading me to feel exhausted most of the time. But if I stopped… I would get behind. If I slowed down… Someone else would catch up and pass me. So I pushed through the pain and exhaustion and kept going.
This is not only unwise, it’s unhealthy!
I have been ignoring the inner impulses of my body. It’s been telling me to slow down. I’ve yet to really listen. But the body has a way of forcing you to listen if you won’t stop. So you and I have to make a decision… Either we can make the conscious effort to slow down, or our body will do it for us.
Life is not a race.
I have been running as if there is some sort of prize at the end. And there is… death! The faster you go and the harder you push without proper time to rest and rejuvenate… the sooner you’ll arrive at the end. Yet I have traded the here and now for there and then! “One day” is a time period I’ve been chasing after for years now. The crazy part… it’s illusive! I’ve yet to hold “one day” in my hands. And it’s not for the lack of trying. The harder I try and the more I achieve, just pushes one goal into the next.
It’s a never ending cycle. And it seems as if simultaneously the finish line of my goals and life are both running away from and charging me!
But life is not a race to be won or lost. It’s an experienced to be had. A journey to be enjoyed. A world to be explored. Life is about finding beauty in the small things, hope in troubled times, and a community to walk through both with. Life was meant to be a leisurely stroll… not a marathon. If you go to fast… you’ll miss everything.
Fight the impulse to DO rather than BE.
It’s a potent whisper I hear. It demands of me productivity, achievement, and success. And there is nothing wrong with that voice. There is a time for doing and achieving. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be your best. But in order to have moments of rest and relaxation… we have to learn to fight that voice off!
I admit… I get anxious when I go away. The urge to check my email or return phone calls can be crippling. I like to have my phone next to me at all times. I get defensive when my wife asks me what I’m doing. Those are all symptoms of an over worked, over busy, over connected lifestyle.
During my time away… my wife usually takes my phone and laptop. I always pout like a 5 year old, or try to strike some sort of deal. It never works. She and I both know it’s for my best! But something amazing happens a few days in… I begin to relax. I talk a little slower. Sleep a little longer. My pace slows down. I began to just be! In the moment. In the present. Right here. Right now.
Happiness is right now.
My girls laughing and playing. My wife singing and dancing around the house. The sound of a house full of friends. The warm sunshine on my face. The smell of the salty ocean air. The flowers blooming all around. The prayers at the end of the night.
That is happiness! And that is happening right now. Every day! Right under my nose. Do you hear it? Can you see it? Have you even gotten up from your desk and walked outside to feel it? Chances are… if you’re anything like I’ve been, the answer is no! You think happiness can be obtained through longer hours worked and more money brought in.
You’re missing out on so much!
I don’t want to miss any of these moments ever again. I want to go back to the days of my Spring Break. Where I didn’t have a care in the world. A time where I just enjoyed being present. Lived in the moment. And experiencing as much as I could! I want to see the beauty in the small things. Be curious. Explore this world.
I want to slow down! But that’s something only I can do for myself!