Not So Fast


“Nothing is as urgent as luxuriating in the non-urgency of your life. The only urgency is taking the time to enjoy your life. Slowly.”

I’ve just returned from a month in Europe.  And although there were terrorist scares and street demonstrations, my life was not threatened. It was gracefully enriched, my credit card statement not withstanding.

It was a well needed time out and a reminder of how different cultures look at time. Often in America time is defined by how much time it takes to do something. In other parts of the world it is more about learning to take your time. Relishing the moment. And the next one. And the next. And that’s how you turn an afternoon coffee into a meal. Ahhhh.

A time out in other cultures also turns our head. And once you turn your head, you see everything a little differently. Seeing America with different eyes doesn’t always mean noticing the flaws, though those are there. It can also and does mean you have a chance to see what you like about where you live but can’t see because you live there. What we see constantly is often we come not to see.

Coming home took me a little longer to land this time. And I like hovering over the familiar before returning to old habits. There is a luxury to how we handle our re-entry to any moment. Most of us rush to be and do who we were before because brain chemistry likes to run the future down past channels. This year I built a dam and took my time. That meant my sleep was erratic at best, but getting older also means not getting angry at yourself when you can’t sleep at night or you’d be angry a lot. Instead I lay in bed, stared at the ceiling, and was again in Via Reggio at Massimo’s on the Italian Riviera surrounded by the laughter and candlelight of surrounding tables. And was again enjoying the cheese platter and perfect vino rosso, at four in the morning.

After living out of a suitcase in Italy and France, I come home to find that I have more clothes than I need. My car I discover is much bigger than I thought. And almost all of the mail waiting for me could have waited 20 years. Nothing is as urgent as luxuriating in the non-urgency of your life. The only urgency is taking the time to enjoy your life. Slowly.

Saw a poster in a bookstore in Paris touting a new book. The line of description to catch the reader’s eye read: “Life is brief and desire is without end.” True. And true. And this is what make’s life sweet and mortality bitter. But better to know than to be bitter. Much better.

My wife and I go to dinner. We are each wearing something we bought on our trip. And each purchase comes with a memory of where and who and euro math and was memory’s sweet fruit even if after a day of walking till we drop we dropped on our bed in late afternoon flipping a coin to see who got the first bath before cocktails. Clink. Clink.

Home now for about three weeks, I am mostly back in the groove. Mostly. Part of me is still grooving on living outside of my norm and re-examining what norm means. I am here and not here, still. And I like it. It’s a bit like being at two buffet lines at the same time. And the only part of you gaining weight is the gravity of what it means to be alive. Yes. And I said yes. Yes, yes.

Noah benShea
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