Still tuning into the last speakers of the Collective Trauma Summit and just finished listening to Bayo Akomolafe— a teacher, author and thinker from the Yoruban tradition. Amongst many thought-provoking statements, I was stuck by this one:
“When the matter is urgent, we must slow down.”
Those are two dynamics that don’t seem to go together, and yet, with a little reflection, they do, and brilliantly so. Our typical response to problems is to rush and fix them. When it comes to mechanical or electronic things that are broken, I’m all for the quick solution. But for social-emotional issues, we need something different. When our heart is aching or our relationships are askew or we are reeling from life’s losses, the world is asking something different from us. To slow down, to sit with it all, to listen to what grief or the trees or our locked-away inner voice has to say to us. Sift down to the deeper layers of the problem, spend some time in company with poets, musicians, the ocean’s tidal movement. Connect the private sorrow to the greater community of the natural world, the ancestors and other fellow wounded people (all of us) willing to take time out.
Thinking about this, it struck me forcefully—"That was the pandemic!!” Nature’s time-out warning to us to get off the horses galloping us hither and thither, often to the edge of the cliff of our own destruction. Now that we are beginning to mount those horses again, we should consider what we have learned. Remember to sometime gently trot or walk or dismount altogether. Make a conscious choice to slow down, to savor, to pay attention. To spend our precious time doing useless things like singing, playing music, dancing for no reason, lying on the green earth gazing up at clouds. Maybe even fly a kite.
Zen Buddhists have a practice with a rigorous schedule, an urgent call to slow down. Coming in through another door, Henry Miller felt the same thing:
“Meaningful acts require no stir. When things are going to rack and ruin, the most purposeful act may be to sit still.”
Good to keep in mind as we turn to the necessary and urgent work of getting out the vote. Let me be clear. This is the time to stir! Just a reminder to keep it all in balance.