I’m sitting on the single bed my grandmother once slept in, sipping green tea, and listening to the light chirping of birds outside my window.
Children are playing in a neighbor’s yard somewhere nearby. There’s a silence beneath the humming of the surrounding sounds.
It’s slightly overcast, but the sunlight is making its way through the haziness of the clouds. After a string of several cold days, it seems as if spring is finally making its way to us.
I’ve been in Sweden for just over a week now, staying with my grandmother and settling into a home I’ve only visited sparingly throughout my life.
I feel a softness in my existence here. It’s as if I’ve shed the heaviness of every burden, every judgement, and every strict expectation I’d ever clung to. I didn’t even have to try.
I feel at ease, as if I’ve been swathed in nothing but soothing gentleness.
Being here feels natural, like the most obvious, logical extension of my movement in time. It had to be.
I loved Boston while I was there, but now that I’ve left, I can’t believe I stayed so long. I was burned out and bored. Tired. I found joy and contentment in little things, but I wasn’t particularly fond of the broader life I was experiencing.
I needed a change—and I wanted to live a life that energized me, rather than one that I felt like I was simply grudgingly wading through.
There are things I want and plan to do, but I’m being tender with myself, allowing myself space to breathe. I’m easing my way into my new future, allowing it to unfurl before me, rather than forcefully trying to mold it into the shape I’d prefer.
I’m enjoying my solitude and the quiet routine I’ve garnered over the last several days. Slow mornings sipping coffee and hot lemon water, long walks or short runs, meditation, and writing. Lunch with my grandma, a trip to the store, and a little yoga. Submitting to the seductive allure of sleep when I can no longer keep my eyes open.
I’m taking it easy and being kind to myself. Doing what feels good. I feel profound contentment in simply existing near my grandmother, listening to her watch Swedish television programs on my computer, hearing the background hum of her talk radio.
So often, so many of us push and force. We do it with things we want to achieve, and we do it when we don’t even know that we’re doing it at all. We’ve come to idolize busyness and productivity. We think we are more useful if we are always moving and progressing, filling every moment of our day with more people, more action, and more things.
We’ve forgotten the pleasures in slowing down, the vastness in doing nothing.
Even I, who believes I’m quite good at submitting to the moment, am learning to surrender further.
In Boston, if I didn’t do everything I’d written down on one of my daily or weekly lists, I felt like I was failing. And, if I didn’t spend every moment of my free time doing something I loved, I felt as if I was wasting the precious spare moments that weren’t confined to the designated hours of an office job that didn’t fulfill me.
I believe deeply that we all just want to be happy. We want to live with ease and feel joy. However, we cannot do that if we are always pushing ourselves and keeping ourselves relentlessly busy—even if the tasks are aligned with whatever it is we want to gain out of life.
We have to give ourselves the space to be truly, fully present. We have to be willing to allow ourselves to slow down, because that space rejuvenates us.
Of course, if we want to change something about our lives, it will take work. If we have high goals, we will need to do what it takes to reach them, and we will have to work through each necessary step. But, I don’t think it has to be all-consuming.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a small sunlit patch of grass outside of my grandmother’s house with a glass of white wine. I looked at the flowers beginning to grow, marveling at the brilliant yellows and purples, and listened to the neighbor continue construction on his house next door. I listened to children playing in the distance and heard the sounds of passing voices, as friends conversed ostensibly on their way to some place they’d enjoy spending time.
I felt the sun on my face and heard the wind rustling the branches above my head.
For these few moments, I was present. I simply sat reveling in nature, because it was the only thing that I wanted to do.
And it felt really good.