the speed at which we slow down

Yesterday I found myself in traffic. An every day occurrence to be sure, especially on Crescent Heights during rush hour, but yesterday's traffic was a different kind of jam. It's totally trite to speak of epiphanies, especially on the very last day of the year, but these last few weeks of limbo, caught between a year gone and one soon to begin, were designed with them in mind. So. Let me start this again...

Yesterday I found myself in traffic, the kind where everyone is honking and no one is moving and intersections become blocked by cars trying to speed through yellow lights even though there is nothing but more traffic on the other side. A man was yelling at another man the lane next to me. Naturally, I opened my window except I couldn't hear anything over the wind storm, which Wizard-of-Oz style managed to pull me out the window of my car and into the sky where I sat watching palm fronds fold compromisingly and tear away. It was beautiful up there. The skies were clear of smog from two weeks of heavy rain, Hollywood Hills green with growth and mildewed mansions. I would have happily put my car in park and watched everything sway and stand for days if the car behind me wasn't honking for me to go.... three. entire. feet.

Our Internet has been down for an entire week. The line was severed during the storm and we were told it would be repaired sometime this weekend. Today is the first time I have been on my computer since Tuesday at my parent's house. In the meantime I'm here writing at the coffee shop, racing against their early New Years Eve closing time.

A down Internet isn't so bad, it turns out, and much like my moment of appreciation for being stopped in traffic during a wind storm of dancing tree tops, so have these last days been more blessing than curse, being able to spend our vacation unplugged against our wills. Last night instead of migrating to opposite ends of the house to stare into our computers until bedtime, Hal and I sprawled across the foot of our bed, sweatpants pulled over cold feet and talked - we looked back on the year's events with nostalgi-awe and held hands. I told him about the day's earlier traffic jam and how I had an "out-of-auto-experience" that led me to the mantra I had decided would be mine for 2011.

2010 was the year of the workhorse - of blogging almost daily and fourteen drafts of a (finally!) finished project I spent the entire year working on after hours. Twas the year of trading apartment for home, acclimating to a new life and lifestyle, of putting an obscene amount of pressure on myself that led to implosion as it so often does because more, more, honk, honk, go, go = crash.

These last two weeks have been a sea change. From Hal and I putting off plans to try for a third child this year (because "wanting more" was last year's mantra) to me deleting my "2011 Month by Month goals...." Select all, replace with: break and roll down the window, and that's what I intend to do.

Traffic is unavoidable. Such a waste of time cursing at parked cars and red lights and bad drivers. Break and roll down the window, yo.

We tend to focus our attention on how fast things accelerate because all drivers have a need for speed. Zero to thirty. Zero to fifty. Zero to one hundred miles per hour without slowing down. In the past, de-acceleration has felt to me like failure when really, it's the speed at which we slow down that showcases our ability to drive.

2011 = break and roll down the window.

So much to see beyond the glass.

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Sixty to zero in ten, nine, eight...

GGC

23 comments:

lonek8 | 5:07 PM

What a wonderful mantra! I too am trying to move away from my "more is more" capitalist desires and focus on that which lies within. Actually BE the woman I want to be rather than dressing up and playing make believe (unless the woman I want to be is taking a moment to play dress up and make believe!).

Have a Happy New Year!

Kate | 5:25 PM

True, true. I enjoy the idea of having in place of wanting. What's good is that having is actually easier. Thank you for sharing your insight.

joanie | 5:42 PM

amen to that!!
I agree whole-heartedly. Wish we all could adopt this moantra. I, being 6 months pregnant with my first girl, having 2 boys at home who make me go 0-60 with their energy, and looking forward to being more present in '11.
I can't imagine looking back on the yar and thinking "I had a baby this year, and what else do i remember? not much else" how awful to speed through their childhoods. I want to go at their speed.
Have a great new year!!!!!!

Cave Momma | 6:12 PM

I was thrown into a similar mantra due to some unfortunate financial issues but in the grand scheme, it has completely worked out. We are still on hold in a lot of ways but it is forcing us to just relax a bit more and be thankful and happy in the now. It's been pretty awesome so I'm sure you guys will have a fantastic year.

jessica | 6:54 PM

and here i was not looking forward to the new year since i just found out my favorite tampon has been discontinued. panic stricken i headed to the web to buy some but they are all gone. damn technology and everyone who bought them online before i did!
if everyone else would've slowed down i could've had the last box of o.b.

Catch the Kids | 9:53 PM

I am so inspired after reading this. Will be looking around me for good things that are in front of me rather than those that lie out of sight over the hill....

GingerB | 12:13 AM

I proved to myself how much I need to make your mantra my own when I fell on the ice last month while carrying school photos, two glass bowls used to carry mashed taters for the day care turkey day "feast" and my two year old daughter with speial needs, while I talked over my shoulder to some friends in the day care lot. If I did one thing at a time, I wouldn't go multidirectional and end up on my ass with a torn hamstring. Powerful lesson . . . but not my favorite one, really.

GratefulTwinMom | 8:16 AM

I really love your "blown out the window to check out the tree tops" metaphor. Sometimes, in Los Angeles, we are so fixated on the destination that we miss everything along the way. I want to appreciate my beautiful life here more in 2011. Thanks for the reminder.

Still Life With Coffee | 9:07 AM

Totally true and beautifully written. I love when our power goes out.... at least once a year... it reminds me of how much fun we have without all the devices and noise and distraction. It is awesome to slow down and just be with the people we love.
Happy new year!

grandpa norm | 9:47 AM

If you can, think back to the time when you weren't but all of them were. There were no modern conveniences, there was nothing but dawn and dusk... but look at what they accomplished without everything we take for granted. Yes, slowing down is the key since merely a little thought will make clear where we are headed. What is the rush to get there? Th trip is all that matters since the destination is already known .

Anonymous | 10:48 AM

Rebecca~

Just wanted to take the first day of the New Year to say thank-you. Your blog speaks to me, and has for many years. Thanks for allowing me into your world, and into your thoughts...I know it's only a tiny peek, but I appreciate it.

To you and the rest of your peeps I wish you a year filled with health, love, and satisfaction. Happy 2011!

Peace~
Karen

PS Your mom is the coolest lady in the world...She's got this glow in every picture I've ever seen of her.

westbymidwest | 10:50 AM

So beautifully said. In LA traffic I often find myself thinking that we're fighting to get to the same place. But we're all gonna get there. Love your mantra. Thanks for sharing your words, and happy new year!

Jessica | 5:39 PM

This is kind of my New Year's resolution as well. Happy New Year, and thank you for sharing your life so candidly. I have enjoyed reading so much.

Glenda | 7:24 PM

Happy New Year to you and your family! May the new year be filled with much love, health and happiness.

Yes I plan to slow down and stay calmer. If I can't do anything about it and can't control it, no need to stress over it. :)

Beth | 8:00 PM

I love "nostalgi-awe" and I love your new mantra. Have a beautiful '11!

AnE | 8:06 PM

selfishly I hope you keep up with the blog! :)
happy 2011!!

BonJoey | 11:15 PM

Good advice! Wish we could all be reminded of this on a daily basis when things start getting crazy. Thank you for being the highlight of my internet usage in 2010 (and 2009, and 2008)! Peeking into your world almost never fails to brighten mine. Thank you for sharing and happy 2011!

Polly | 9:38 AM

perfection personified in a post

Cat | 9:51 AM

This...

"it's the speed at which we slow down that showcases our ability to drive."

This is what I needed to hear/read all week. Hell, all month.

Thank you.

Mrsgryphon (Sarah) | 11:14 AM

Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to figure out why 2010 felt so difficult, and I finally worked out what you just articulated so beautifully. 2010 was all about go go go, do do do, more more more. My word/goal for 2011 is "simplify".

Hope you and your lovely little family have a beautiful year in 2011 - one with plenty of successes that encourage you and challenges that lead you forward! Cheers!

My Bottle's Up! | 11:32 AM

oh lady... you inspire.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:06 PM

Thank you, all! A very happy new year to you! Cheers!

flyrish | 10:19 AM

What a perfect way to start 2011! I love the notion of slowing down, appreciating the little beauties in life. Especially at time when I see so much change coming into my life. I'm feeling a bit scared, but this post reminded me that if I slow down and just enjoy, life may not be so scary in 2011.