One of the joys of being an artist is that the slow life is appealing. Yes, I am a workaholic and spend more hours at the computer than I’d like. But I also know how to go slow. The morning walk, the turning around and backtracking when something interesting catches my eye. Going slow allows surprise to catch up with you, allows you to confirm something you thought you almost saw.
This morning, I dragged the hose across the pool and set the sprinkler to water the potted plants at the edge of the pool. The shadow made by the random drops that fell in the pool sent me back for my camera.
I would have missed it, if I hadn’t looked over my shoulder.
A few weeks ago, a caring, thoughtful person steamed asparagus for dinner, and I was enchanted by the color. She pulled one out of the steaming pot, and I caught it with a drop of water near the top.
The color alone was worth asking someone I had just met to let me photograph dinner in the making. We both laughed, surprised, I think, that the other didn’t mind asking to slow down and notice.
I have a growing cactus in the front yard. A few weeks ago, on my way out the door for a walk, the shape of one of the cactus pads caught my eye. Yep, it was heart shaped. I hadn’t noticed it before.
My life would be poorer had I missed these opportunities. It’s more than the glance. It’s a certain vulnerability that allows for permission to take the time to enjoy such an accident of nature and pull out the camera to catch it. In my case, it’s an iPhone, but I had to allow myself to be all right with not racing off, not staying on schedule. And allow myself the vulnerability of being amazed at nature time and time again.
There were many years in my life when I would have noticed but pretended not to. It wasn’t important enough. It wasn’t worth my time. But at night, before I fell asleep, I always regretted not allowing myself the simple permission of time to be slow. It was a hard lesson to learn, to give up speed for enjoyment.
I still work fast and hard, I’m sure I miss a lot. But I’m grateful for every second I catch and enjoy. I’m happy to give up the drama that made up a lot of my life many years ago. It was a considered decision. Frankly, the drama had a crackle to it that was tempting. In the end, I’m happier choosing to steer clear of drama and noticed the smaller, slower things. At least occasionally.
–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist for at least the first two hours of every day. Then she’s a creativity coach with a memory for beauty.