Visiting family in California this weekend, I'm thrown by the slower pace, the time taken to eat or visit or rest between activities. I finally got dressed at 11:00. I've slowed down a lot in recent years due to all the health nonsense, but I still react to everything around me far more readily than taking charge of my own pace. As a cook, caterer, secretary, wife, mom, and church employee, caring for others has always been my duty, and I enjoy it. But I often went too far and ignored my needs in order to meet someone else's. It was more rewarding. I got more positive feedback. I spent years ignoring pain, once to the point of walking around with a ruptured gallbladder for several weeks before it was discovered.
We people have deeper needs than just the physical ones, but we must tend to the physical ones before making any headway with the spiritual ones. We must learn to eat, rest, hydrate, prepare, unwind, share, and reflect. These are the things that create quality of life. We have developed a very effective habit of racing through life so that that we miss most of it. But we're winning ... something. The race? There is no race. Everybody starts and finishes the same. The stuff? The stuff doesn't matter, unless it's the very basic equipment to meet physical needs -- shelter, clothing, food. Acquiring art or music has no value if we haven't learned to stop everything else and allow it to reach our souls. Our disposable society is no way to live fully. We have to overcome it with less stuff, more quality, fewer clutter-y items and more time and energy focused on valuing things that touch us.
I'm so blessed by my parents. They are wise, likely far wiser than I'll ever recognize. In this moment, this weekend, they are teaching me to choose my own pace, set my own agenda, meet my own needs before pursuing anybody else's. I've heard dozens of times, "You can't help/love/take care of anybody else if you don't help/love/take care of yourself first." Maybe I'm finally starting to listen.