Stand Still So Life Won't Pass You By

Stand Still So Life Won’t Pass You By

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn.”
― Seneca

The large clumps of Maiden Grass were waving from the landscaping of the service station, catching my eye as I sat at the traffic light. It struck me how they drew me in without knocking on the window or meeting me for a cup of coffee. Those beautiful plumes made quite a show while staying in one spot. It is difficult to ignore the similarity in the actions of the grass and the importance of Seneca’s words for people. Is it possible that many of us are so busy being busy that we aren’t busy enough with living?

At the end of every big project, I remark to myself and to those who are waiting for me to have some free time that as soon as this ends, I’ll have more time to just enjoy life. And I mean it every time I say it. Unfortunately, I have discovered there is always someone with another opportunity (as Mrs. Tuckson, the boys’ elementary school principal, used to say), and without the proper preparation, I’ll keep accepting those wonderful opportunities. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We can be more like the Maiden Grass.

I think this is on my mind right now because it’s November. The time is upon us. You know, the time when everyone wants you to attend special gatherings, schools put on programs to wow the parents and grandparents and celebrate the gifts of the students, and the glossy mailings remind us of all the gifts we can share with those we love. It is overwhelming. I want to use a hundred exclamation points with that last sentence, but it seems a bit over the top, so I’ll just tell you how incredibly anxious the weeks ahead can make me, and apparently, many of you, feel.

Take a deep breath, breathe in the cool, crisp air (unless it’s still steamy where you are), and think about how you might be more like that ornamental grass — not hurrying around, but waving from where you stand, living right where you are and how you are.

  1. Do you enjoy cooking and baking? If so, put that at the top of your list and let yourself enjoy every minute of being in the kitchen, baking cookies, and cakes or roasting a turkey and all of the fixin’s’. If not, take it off your list because most groceries offer a meal for close to the same amount of money you would spend buying all of the ingredients — but check with the grocery NOW, not the day before your holiday.
  2. Do you enjoy receiving cards/letters/photos of people you don’t see often? Set a basket out to begin collecting them as they arrive, and if you have the inclination, keep some cards or just a notepad and envelopes handy, and jot a quick note back to the sender as you receive the holiday greetings. If you love sending your own holiday greetings, and between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah there are lots of opportunities, why not make your plan now to pick up some cards and stamps, and print off the addresses of people you want to include. Then, instead of looking at Instagram or Facebook while you watch television in the evening you could share a little of your year with people who will probably be grateful to hear from you.
  3. Do you like to decorate the house, possibly including the yard, to fully enjoy the holiday season? Great, get busy now making a plan for batteries and bulbs that might be needed. If this is what you enjoy, then by all means set aside time to enjoy the process. If you are feeling like all of this is overrated and a few pretty decorations to differentiate seasons is enough for you, then celebrate that!
  4. Do you enjoy attending the end of the year parties, children’s programs, and opportunities to give back to your community? Get out there and share your holiday cheer! Do you dread it all and wish these were not all held at the same time? You are not alone, and you can either choose to stay home or simply limit the number of activities in which you participate.

It’s true, November and December offer so many wonderful opportunities to be busy and so many opportunities to miss out on life because of the busyness. There are people who enjoy every minute of hustling and bustling until they ring in the new year, and that’s wonderful, but if that isn’t you, it’s ok. You and I can be like the Maiden Grass and stay right where we are and still participate in life. If you think there is a Grinch in your home, maybe he (or she) has learned that there is nothing greater to be busy with than the simply beautiful busyness of living.


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Thoughts to Encourage

Joy is the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.~ William Butler Yeats

Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right. - Henry Ford

The best way out is always through. ~ Robert Frost

Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. ~ Theodore N. Vail

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

You must be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

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