man man

May 5, 2013


A few days ago I read a pastor’s reflection that recommended an effort to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from one’s life. These words struck me, resonating with the longing I have to live in a way that does not require me to rush . . . for the most part, that is: there is a certain amount of rushing that cannot be avoided, from external sources. But at least so far as I can manage to arrange things, it is possible to eliminate much of it.
Almost immediately, however, a strange reaction counteracted this first response. I felt guilty about the prospect of being able to slow down. Strange, I mused. Why does it feel wrong to be unhurried? But I pretty quickly figured it out: there is enough American in me to have absorbed the Western mindset of performance-oriented shows of rushing through one’s days. We take pride—and, I suspect, a certain level of comfort as well—in being harried . . . in having too much to do, too much one is responsible for.
Around this same time frame, I heard another snippet, this time spoken by a celebrity, on a national public radio podcast. He said something along the lines of a theory that much of human life is spent trying to pass the time [i.e. wasting time].
Wow! Now that’s interesting! I thought. What if we are indeed all just rushing about, trying to beat each other in the busy game, in an effort to pass the time? If that is even remotely true, then it becomes infinitely more vital, so far as I can see, to “ruthlessly” eliminate this. Because only in so doing will we have space in our lives to be able to see what is significant.
Yesterday I went to yoga class—the same one that resulted in a busted nose the last time I went. But I braved the 2-hour session once more, with the sense that it was important to accept the invitation from my local friend, to go with her. It is also worthwhile, I think, to spend that time—uncomfortable though it may be—in a situation where no one else speaks my language. Trying to concentrate on the words I was hearing, and the actions that corresponded to them, I realized that one phrase I had heard over and over was “man man.” Later in the afternoon, I asked one of my coworkers about the words. “Slowly, slowly” is what she said it meant.
Now that is really interesting! is what I thought.
Out loud, I responded that “I think I’m going to make that my mantra for a while . . . my ‘man man’ mantra.” ;-)
So this afternoon, returning from church, I did not even attempt to settle down to lesson plans immediately. First I took my camera and my sunglasses and headed out the door to see what was going on in the neighborhood on this sunshiny day. First thing I saw was a group of little ones using, I suspect, a grandparent’s cane, to knock down fruit from the trees. A decent way to “man man” one’s way through the day, I think ☺

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