Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

‘Til You Drag Your Feet to Slow the Circle Down…

Can you believe it’s March 25?

That’s, like 1/3 of 2011 gone already.

That’s three weeks to the first race of the season.

Five weeks left of real teaching this semester.

Three months until Costa Rica.

Life is flying by these days, and sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to hold on for dear life.

When I started this blog in the summer of 2008, it was in part because I wanted to slow down – to stop living by to-do lists and deadlines, to start enjoying the process as much as I was looking forward to the finish line.

It’s a little bit like a race, right?  Sure, you’re always gunning for the end result, but if you’re not present in each mile, that finish is never quite as sweet.

No, it’s not December 31 or January 1, when many of us try to pause and take stock.

And yes, it’s probably the busiest time of the school year, with big papers coming in and teaching observations to prepare for and writing deadlines looming.

Not to mention the beginning of race season – from mid-April to early June, there’s a 12- or 24-hour race every 2-3 weekends, and then that little matter of Costa Rica, still tentative but looking promising.

But I need to push the pause button – or at least track through this part a little more slowly.

When I was in high school I was a big fan of Henry David Thoreau.  Here was this man who, in 1845, left his comfortable home for a simple life in the vast woodlands surrounding Walden Pond.  His message resonated with me – “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

I never seriously contemplated abandoning my little corner of the high school universe in favor of an outdoor adventure (though I did visit Walden Pond during a college trip to Boston).  But I took Thoreau’s words seriously, and thought about what it meant to live intentionally.

Somewhere along the way Thoreau fell off my radar, but every so often he’d creep back in there, when there were big decisions to make or something in my belly telling me that I was going the wrong way.

Three weeks into that first semester of college: Do I stay where I am in small town Ohio, feeling lost and stuck and unable to do what I went to that little school to do, or do I go home and hit reset, repair the two torn rotator cuffs eating at my shoulders (and my psyche), and start over in January?

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Back to Philly.

Senior year of college: To go to law school as I’d planned since I was, oh, six years old, or tear up that deposit check ready to be mailed and head off for Maine to study documentary making?

“If I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?”


First semester of law school (post-documentary adventure): Stay the course, despite that persistent feeling in my belly telling me that I have no interest in practicing law, or do what seems impossible and dive into a joint JD/PhD with thoughts of coming out on the other end the most over-educated documentary filmmaker in the world?

“I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Take the leap.

Thoreau hasn’t steered me wrong so far… and he’s been on my mind lately again.

There’s no major change coming, no new direction to take.  I love the various parts of my life right now.  But I know the pace at which they’re moving is unsustainable, and it’s reaching the point where no one thing is quite right because everything is too much.  I’ve been here before, and I’m watching Brent struggle through it now, too.  Sometimes too much is just too much.  But it always rights itself eventually.

I’m not sure what it’s going to look like, but it seems it’s time to slow down.  To step back.  To reclaim that intention.

I’ll let you know what I find on the other side.

Do you ever feel like life’s moving too quickly for you to hold on?  How do you slow down?


9 responses to “‘Til You Drag Your Feet to Slow the Circle Down…

  1. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction March 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I felt like that a few weeks ago. I ended up taking like three weekends to just hole up by myself and do nothing before I finally felt better.

  2. Tim March 25, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Do I ever feel my life is moving too quickly? Every. Single. Day. But, I try to slow down in moments. A sunday morning at the park with my Kids, during those few precious seconds when everyone is quietly eating dinner, or when I am in the middle of a hard run and all I am thinking about is keeping my breathing smooth and my legs moving. Its hard to slow your life down these days, without treking off into the wilderness, but by focusing on the parts of my life that deserve my greatest attention I feel that I can manage the pace of the rest of the world.

  3. Julie (A Case of the Runs) March 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    As much as time is flying, I want it to fast forward… to about 1.5 months from now (end of the semester). Ha ha!!

    Well get through this busy part of the semester!

  4. Bill March 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Laurie and I once rode our bikes to Thoreau’s cabin. We started in Philly, and it took us a couple weeks to get there and then get back home.

  5. MidlifeCruiser March 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Yep! That’s why I’m a full time RVer in my mid 30s 🙂

  6. Black Knight March 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I like very much the Thoreau’s quote. I know something about the law school…..I have an university degree in law but I didn’t practice because I joined the Coast Guard.
    Maybe because I am old but I always feel like the life is moving too quickly.

  7. Pingback: This Weekend, I… « Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

  8. Mallory March 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

    What a great post! I love Thoreau. It’s funny, I live so close to Walden Pond but I’ve never been. I should make a point of doing that this spring/summer.

    Sometimes life does just start moving so fast. To slow it down I try to slow myself down first. Prioritize things that are happening and get rid of things that don’t fit.

  9. Julie March 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for this. I really enjoyed your thought process through Thoreau.
    Yes. I do feel that way. Kids. House. Work. Training. Laundry. Bible study. Laundry. More training. Family. Friends. Laundry. Fund raising. Now the kids are both starting sports in April – so add soccer and baseball practice and games.
    Then I remember I haven’t cleaned my bike after the last 3 times I’ve ridden in grit and grime. I see my house from a visitors point of view (yikes!) and it all starts to be a bit much. Oh…and there’s those three books I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to read. I know it can all work out, though. It just takes me slowing down, taking it bit by bit and deciding what parts are truly important…
    …and laundry ain’t it 😉 I’ll keep ’em clean, but I’m not folding and putting away. Want a shirt? Check one of those piles over there!

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