Monday, December 14, 2009

When Slow is Fast

What do you see in this photo? The light post? The puddle? The gutter? The buildings? Or are you much further ahead? Is your mind already peaking around that corner wondering where the street leads?

I am not so great at the Here and Now.
I try.
Really I do.
But I can only manage the present in small doses. After that my mind is already at the edge of the next building, the next day, the next year or an alternative reality. Maybe that's because my Here and Now sometimes looks a lot like sitting in gutter, contemplating reflections in the glassy puddles hoping it won't rain again just yet because I am still sitting outside my life.

My husband is a Here and Now kind of guy. He misses most of the puddles in life and wonders why my feet are wet.
He's the romantic soul staring up at the light post saying, "Tab, you have to see this street when it's all lit up."
"It lights up?"
"Oh yeah, streets always light up."
"They do?"
"Sure they do. You just have to wait."

Waiting...yeah... I am not so good with the waiting...

That would entail Stillness. Reflections need stillness. Ever thought about how little you see of yourself if you are running past a mirror?
Finding things, really seeing things, often requires stillness. And I like to move. Just breathing and being... wow... I find that very hard.

But when I write and I can still me inside. The racing down roads, banging my head against brick walls or trying to slip around corners I have no hope of reaching can be stopped and I am still.
In that stillness I hear myself.
I see myself.
I find the whispering.
And I am able to listen.

A wise woman told me that stillness might really be fast, and fast is often slow. Because sometimes the quickest way to ourselves, to the Here and Now and all the beauty we seek, is in the going slow.

Fast just races.
It doesn't necessarily find what it is looking for. And fast has a tendancy to get lost a long, long way from home.
Fast often needs to back track.

Stillness feels its way down streets and notices the lamp post. It has time to wait for the lights to turn on. It finds puddles, but can also see its own reflection. Stillness has a better chance of finding what it is looking for because it is hard to miss what you are purposefully slowing down to notice.

No wonder I love to write and find myself in words.

What about you? Where do you find yourself on the street of life? What does your writing say about you and where you pull your words from?


  1. Oooh, I'm not sure. I can be a slow writer sometimes, but sometimes fast. I'm probably a here and now person. I don't like to plan ahead, I like to take each moment. But at the same time, I do have a schedule for my kids that I stick to.

    When I looked at that picture, the first thing I saw was the water and I thought it was beautiful I didn't even notice the buildings or road until I read your post. I have no clue what that means about me. LOL

  2. I used to be just like you Tab, always in such a hurry to get to the other side, see what's around the corner. But not so much any more.

    I think it's why I LOVE the whole querying process. Sure, rejections aren't easy, BUT, every query letter you have out there is like a ticket to dream. So long as that letter has left your hands and you're not yet in possession of a "no," then anything could happen.

    It's like permission to really dream. Maybe this one will be THE one. Maybe it won't. But it could be and until you know otherwise, you can imagine that it might be.

    As I get older, I'm learning that "might" and "maybe" are so much nicer than "yes" or "no" because they're full of possibilities.

    When I was a little kid, I was always picking the corners off my christmas presents, trying to see what I was getting. Now I prefer the box and opening it is the worst bit. While it's wrapped, it could be anything and that dream is usually so much better than the reality :)

  3. Jessica- I don't plan ahead either and I am learning to take moments and turn each one over in my hands.

    Wendy- I love the way you see life. Beautiful words. Thank you for your comment :)

  4. I'm too busy moving to the next thing to really enjoy most of what populates my here and now. Sad. Thanks Tabitha for reminding me that my words can take their time and just enjoy the moment.

  5. Hi Tabitha! All my life I've needed still time, alone time. When I write, I need it really quiet. I get in a zone!

    The first thing I noticed in that picture was the sky. What's the weather in this place? Any sign of change or excitement?

  6. It is impossible to skim your blog. It draws me in every time. Your words captivate me. I am so like you in the racing ahead. I need to wait for the street to light up.

  7. I'm a very slow writer. So there are many times I am sitting still. :) But sometimes I think that makes me really know what makes my characters tick before I write about them. Does that make me a gutter person? lol

  8. I'm an always looking to see what's around the corner person. I have a hard time enjoying the now. My mind is always looking to the future when - my kids are older, when my house will be remodoled, when I've lost that weight, or when the summer/winter will be over. I'm trying very hard to be happy with the now. Writing for me is an escape from the now for a little awhile and then I'm better able to focus when the now comes into view again.

    Wonderful post Tabitha.

  9. Mary- Writing is my peaceful escape too. My mind is learning to settle in the here and now. I relate to what you said BIG time.

    Jenn- No. I don't think that makes you a gutter person. Slow is often still walking down the street or looking in the windows along the way. Gutter's are another matter altogether. I think of them as sad parts of the world that I can't seem to stay away from.

    Katie- me too :) I need to believe the lights do come on.

    Fireblossom- weather? Oh, I never thought about the weather? Yeah, good point. And I love that you are looking upwards. Maybe that is why I didn't notice the sky :)

    Tamika- Thanks :)

  10. i find it hard to sit still for long periods of times. I'm always walking, always moving, I even think while walking. But when i'm forced to sit, I find myself staring unseeingly at things.
    I don't think i live in the Here and Now, my mind is always wandering somewhere in the past, or hoping for a change in the future.
    Your blog is beautiful and thought-provoking, that's why I added you to my blog list.
    Have a nice day!

  11. Lately I've been spending a lot of time in the here and now, because prior to this year, I was always racing up ahead, missing what was just beside me. For the time being, my writing is focusing on what I see in the present...

  12. When I looked at the photo, I noticed the water and then my eyes were drawn to the end of the street and what possibilities it held. I think that is partly the photographer's composition to draw the eye. But in life I sometimes see like an impressionist painter--in hazy, slightly out-of-focus impressions. I have to remind myself to focus, but I do. As always, your writing is lovely and leads me to contemplation.

  13. There are times when I rush along too fast. But then there are times when my family pulls me to a stop. And I am refreshed by just watching and listening to my children. I don't want to let the years slip by so quickly without savoring the special moments.

  14. Hmm... I love being still. But I have a tendency to think ahead. God's really taught me this year how to be in the moment and savor it. It's so important, especially when you're life is as "temporary" as mine. I'm so used to coming and going that it's easier to think about the next trip than where I am at the moment.

  15. I'm a here and now person. But I do wonder what is around that corner. Maybe I'm a little of both.

  16. I saw the puddle first.

    Not sure if that's good. But in a way, I think it's because it stands as a brilliant reflection of the world. I like seeing the world through human eyes rather than raw and plain.

  17. I'm not great at being here and now. I always want to know what's next. I always stress about that next school art project I'm in charge of, or the next oil change my car needs, or the next time I'll have to clean the bathrooms. I think I need to work on this.

  18. I have always been a racer, racing through my to-do list, racing to the next thing. Now, I am learning to slow down and really be present for each thing I am doing. It is hard. Very hard. I noticed more things in your photo than I would have in the past. The light, the puddles, the buildings. Now, if I watch a movie I've already seen, I notice how much I missed the first time around. I'm trying to pay closer attention.

  19. I think I'm mostly on the stillness side. I create lists of things that I need to do, then take joy in marking them off. If I raced ahead, so much would not get done. So, I'm a plodder.

    Straight From Hel

  20. "A wise woman told me that stillness might really be fast, and fast is often slow. Because sometimes the quickest way to ourselves, to the Here and Now and all the beauty we seek, is in the going slow."

    I love that.

  21. You have an awesome talent with words.

  22. This was beautiful and thought provoking. I love how your husband balances you, dries your how you drag him to puddle. A wonderful balance!

  23. Oh wow you spoke to me today. I'm always so transfixed by your writing. I can't believe you've gotten three rejections. What are those agents thinking? If your novel is written with the same flavor of your blog I can only imagine what a treat the world is in for!

  24. I'm always looking ahead, but I like to take my time getting there and not forget where I've been. I'm not fond of waiting, but I am usually very patient. The way I see it, the key to a long life is to be always looking forward to what's coming up next and enjoying where you are now.

    By the way----
    check out the VBT Writers on the Move blog today. I won an opportunity to be profiled on their site and it appears today:

  25. Beautiful words, as always. :)

    I looked at the reflection in the puddle. By the way, you always find such neat photos.

    I go back and forth when I write. I push forward (I'm a box checker in life and in writing), but I dip back as I go.

  26. Hey Tabitha, great question. When I was sick I was always looking to the next appointment, the next symptom, waiting for the next life-altering bit of news from a doctor.

    Now that I'm well, I try to stay in the now, because I know there is joy in the little things (like my daughter's beautiful smile).

    But it can be hard. There is still a part of me that believes sickness will hit again. So I look forward, trying to out-smart it.

  27. What a beautiful post--I'm so glad I've found your blog. I think I'm kind of like you. In real life I'm always in a rush, always worrying about the next days stresses and problems while I tackle whatever the day throws at me. So I love it when I can sit down at my laptop and write because I can finally slow down and immerse myself in my characters and my story and not be in such a rush. The hard part is turning off that part of my brain that wants to get the book finished so I can move on to the next book. Le sigh.

  28. Hmm...I was looking at the sky. I guess I'd be sloshing around in the puddles too! Always a dreamer...

  29. I'm 54. When I look back I see that I was always in a rush, (you describe it so well, and the photo drives the point home), always worrying about what came next. I don't do that anymore. In fact, the pendulum has swung the other way, it's difficult for me to focus down the road because I'm so seeped in the here and now. I am so focused when I'm writing it's almost scary.

  30. Elizabeth- really? I had you pegged for thirty something :) Then you should be writing this post. I am sure you have more to offer than me!

    L&L- Long live the dreamers. What would life be without them?

    Shannon- thanks for the visit. And I know what you mean about the rushing. Me too. Oh, me too!

    Jenn, gosh, I can't imagine. Now that is doing it hard. Glad things are better right now.

    Dawn- yeah, I can be a box checker sometimes. Sometimes I rub out all the boxes and draw my own.

    Arlee- thanks for the link. I will see if I can pop over.

    T.ANne- okay girl, I have to say, I am NOT no way querying my memoir at the moment. It is NOT ready. The rejections are for short pieces that I am sending to magazines. I wish I was ready to query! Thanks for your kind words. I hope an agent sees things that way too :) One day...

    Patti-carrie- Thanks you guys.

    Wine and Words- yeah, he is. The ying in my yang. :)

  31. Oh goodness! I long for the stillness. Life is so rush-rush, busy-busy and my soul whispers for the quiet, where it can be nurtured and flourish. There are those rare days when the stillness is allowed in, but those are few and far between. I'm hoping for some quiet days during the holidays. (after Christmas!!!)

  32. I relate much with this post, Tab. Wonderfully written! Perfect picture. The first thing I noticed was the puddle, stopped for a minute, saw my reflection, then off I went to see what was around the corner. Wondered if I'd find a storm or had the clouds dissipated. xo

  33. I try to remember that life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. I believe that's a Buddhist saying and while I try to remember it, sometimes I can't help myself.

    And I crave quiet moments. I need them!

  34. I noticed the sky first, the soft light at the edge of passing storm clouds. I'm always looking up at the sky and, while aware of the buildings and the lamp and the gutter, they are not eternal, not pressing. I can tramp through the puddle without letting squishy socks bother me as long as I have the sky.

  35. Beautiful, beautiful post! I like looking at things one thing at a time. My eye is naturally drawn to the puddle, but it doesn't stay there long, because there are so many other fascinating things to look at as well.

    My writing tends to happen without much conscious thought on my part. I just have to sit on the gutter, kick my feet back, and look around. And be quiet, of course, so my characters can get through. :D

  36. Wow. This whole post was really one beautiful, long poem. You said this so beautifully. Oddly enough, I think I am like you and my husband is like your husband - hopefully you understood that weirdness. I have a hard time being patient and waiting for things. On our honeymoon, my husband was romantically trying to watch the sunset together. Somehow, I got bored and wandered off just moments before it actually did, and I missed it. That was 11 years ago and he hasn't forgotten it yet!

  37. the first thing i see in the photo is sadness. it's a gray, rainy day. the street is empty. where is everyone?

  38. I hope you find some time for stillness baby, you deserve it.

  39. You are a lyrical master of words!

    I find my words all over the place. As a writer I'm a generalist: I write a little of everything, children's books, poetry, YA fantasy, adult fiction. I want to write it all but in that dream, I find I, too, am losing that sense of stillness needed to center myself.

    Thanks for this post. I will seek out more stillness today. And tomorrow. And even after that...

  40. Another FABULOUS post. Sadly, I focused on the puddle of water...until I spotted The Light's reflection therein. That thought will push me to finish the chores on my list...with persistence, joy, and the best I have to offer.

    YOU, my dear, tear up the proverbial sheet of paper! LOVE this blog.


  41. I'm fascinated by the distorted reflections of the buildings in the puddles and by the smoky cloud formations. I love stillness and soaking up everything around me, but then the gypsy in me needs to move on to new surroundings with new puddles to soak up.

  42. Another beautiful post. I got stopped at the puddle and the reflection. Which fits, because I'm a big reflector. So sometimes I spend too much time and effort looking back and miss the here and now because of it. Like you, writing is the one place time stops rushing and the one place I feel fully myself.

  43. Beautifully written, as always. For me, it's the sky. I have a tendency to step OUT of time and the sky lends itself to that. My daughter is the same way, and I've had to learn to be patient with her, as she hasn't learned when to turn off the dreaminess. Once I remembered my own dreaminess as a child, I started to treasure hers. It's the sign of a mind at work, far away.