Here's the truth:
I don't really know how to slow down. In fact, I don't even really know what those two words mean, in the context of my life. And even more truthfully: I'm afraid what slowing down would mean.
I'm 35, and already nearing the apex of this brief, beautiful life. My half-birthday comes at the end of this month, and time dissolves with every breath. Every week there is a new magazine cover featuring 30 under 30 who have done radical, amazing, remarkable things. People who own companies, who are recognized by millions, who are worth millions. Kids, nearly, with smooth skin and glossy lips and the ease of only caring about one single thing: their careers.
Instead, I had my first baby at 27. The next at 31.
Having them forced the pace of certain trajectories to slow. Life became multifaceted. Complex. Abundant. Nonlinear.
With kids there is never simply, A to B. There is never exclusive focus. Never uninterrupted solitary effort for days on end. Every power sprint at work must be equaled by another power sprint at home. Every expenditure of effort is met by a simultaneous demand for effort to be spent.
My boys wake up fresh faced, beaming, urgent with their small demands. Cheerios and snuggles, trips to the library and the pool. Bike rides, french toast, bandaids applied to scraped knees. Mediation, moderation, patience. Endless demands for those.
It's not that I would change a thing. In my heart of hearts, I wouldn't have done one thing differently when it comes to having kids. I adore kids categorically, and I love mine most of all. They invite the universe in close. They invent different realities. They push me to discover the secrets of my heart, and to feel the urgency of what I'm capable of in a fierce raw way that matters tremendously when everything's all reconciled and accounted for.
And if I'm lucky, when I'm old they'll call me, and visit, and we'll travel Paris together and eat croissants; and hopefully even before I'm old we'll sail together and they'll show me how to see the world from a perspective that is wholly and completely different than the way I do.
But just the same, it is simply a fact that parenthood is at odds with art. Parenting and creativity are fueled by the same energy reserves and time invariably runs short for both on any given day. It will, for me at least, be a forever tenuous balance. A push and pull. Some days a graceful dance, other days an all out war.
I had my first son than nearly all my friends, at an age when I still felt a certain boundless optimism and ease, before I could really imagine the trajectory of my creative career. For that I'm grateful.
I could have only ever had kids then, before I'd begun to feel the velocity of my creative life propelling me forwards with sheer urgent force, as I do now daily. And I'd be lying if I told you that I am anything but gleeful when I watch a pregnant mama walk down the street now, and feel my relative freedom in comparison. My boys dash out ahead of me now, capable as they are of attending to all of their physical needs themselves: pouring milk, buttoning pants, wiping butts, brushing hair, pulling on shoes. Still, their lives are within the immediate orbit of my own. Their days defined by and defining mine. And it's because of their perpetual needs, and mine, that I am terrified to go any slower than flat-out, full velocity.
The hunger I have-to sink into my creative work, and the joy I take from not working at all, and making donuts from scratch or ride bikes through the rain with my boys, their shrieks of joy startling the crows in the wet hedges--is sated by the same thing: Time. Enough of it. Fleeting. Then gone.
So there it is.
The truth is a messy equation.
It's why I'm not sure about slowing down. About what it means, or how to do it, or even if I should. It's why I'm hardwired, almost, to push and keep pushing. Why I'm uneasy doing just one single thing thing at a time, lingering without purpose in the languid, ripe days of summer, simply being instead of doing all the time.Why above all else, taking it easy feels counter intuitive,especially now that I have time, relative to what I had. Because I also have crows feet and sun spots and my birthdays keep happening, each one faster than the next, and what do I have to show?
It's this that scares me: the thought of missing my chance somehow to make blazing mark that is singly my own on the world; of not leaving a body of work that lasts; of not altering in some meaningful way the trajectory of culture.
Yes, that's how big I dream. That's the truth, and the urgency and anxiousness that propels me forward.
Yet lately, I've felt the way living at full velocity is not the same as living at true velocity, and I'm trying to put my finger on the pulse of what that means.
What does it mean to you?
Here's the truth: