Buenos Noches Travellers,
I have to confess when I first started learning Spanish, I loved saying good evening because “Noches” was so similar in sound and spelling to “Nachos” it seemed funny to say “Good Nachos” to people…in fact it makes me giggle now…language is awesome…I love the sounds of other languages as an American. I loved that about New York City, you could stand on any street corner and hear at least three languages.
How do we feel about quotes this late evening? Do you enjoy them and pin them in places for frequent contemplation? Maybe you are one of those people who feel that motivational phrases or quotes are of the devil? Because I know those people too, no judgement. Proceed with an open mind. And “Good Nachos” to you…
I have a handful of quotes, like a baker’s dozen, that really speak to me in this meme heavy world, and one my most favorites has been on my mind this week. It goes a little something like this:
“Do not hurry. Do not rest.”
The quotee’s name is Goethe. Last name rather, or surname if you are not American. He was a very successful writer of his time, and Emerson liked him as well. I can’t say who he was has ever weighed on my mind, but those few words have been with me for well over a decade. I wrote them on a sticky note that has occupied many a surface over the years. It currently resides in the back of my day planner.
Because it felt like true good counsel.
And I love the cadence of it, the simplicity of it, “Do not hurry. Do not rest.”
What did Goethe mean? Who know, but speculation is always fun…
First, I’d say all words mean different things to different people, don’t they? There are layers of interpretation based on who you are that defines us. Isn’t that what makes writing so valuable to humanity? And I always like to hear every interpretation versus the “right” one. So here’s mine:
I can go two ways.
Option 1, I think of the word rest to mean languish. In it’s essence, he’s saying pace life, don’t go too fast and don’t go too slow. The secret in life is to not only find balance BUT abide by it. I think most humans recognize the value of living a life with some sense of equilibrium BUT it takes discipline to make it happen. Every day. We should live our lives at a pace that is not rushing nor stagnant. Or lying in wait. As both are problematic, particularly rushing. Or maybe the rushing seems more problematic right now in the situation we find ourselves living in.
Obviously, some of the natives are getting restless here in America. People want the quarantine over, NOW. They are tired of living in restraint, which probably feels like neglect. I’m speculating. Because they are touting it as a violation of civil rights. The governor here in Kansas has been very reasonable with our “Stay at Home” orders. We can still garden, some states can’t. We can still go to the grocery store and Target. My kids can still go to the vet, of course I had to wait in the car. Weird, yes, but do-able. To be honest, the right that I’m most concerned right now, is my right to survive as well as everyone else. All of us.
The problem is the virus is still spreading and people are still dying. And we know nothing for certain about immunity. We actually no nothing for certain about the virus, it’s still a fact gathering mission.
It’s been about 30 days now. That’s a month in suspended reality. But a month is nothing really in the expanse of a human life, is it? It took nine months to make any of us come to fruition in our mother’s wombs. And yet, it’s forever when it’s something you don’t like, isn’t it? And we want to rush away from what we dislike.
In terms of pacing, we can‘t lay in wait forever trying to guarantee safety. Our economy won’t survive and quality of life will possibly be irrecoverable for some people. I just don’t think it’s time to rush in. Not just yet.
When I was grocery shopping yesterday, over the loud speaker there was a lady’s voice explaining the importance of remaining 6 feet apart from other shoppers. Urging us to remember that social distancing saves lives. And I’ll tell you for just a moment, I felt like I was going to see a girl in a red cape and a white hat. At any minute, walking down the aisle ala “The Handmaid’s Tale”. OR that announcer would come back on and say, “Everyone belongs to everyone else.” Which is of course from Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The longer things stay like this, the more oddly dystopian it feels to me at times. So I do understand the fear that is causing the urge to rush.
As I watched people moving about in the store, and there weren’t many of us, I noticed that we all seemed to be moving about in a strange ballet. In slow motion, apart yet together. Everyone looked drained in a way I don’t know how to describe. It was weird. Sort of unsettling, and I hadn’t noticed it until now.
I also think we shouldn’t be rushing through this whole experience. I think there is something to learn here, which I’ve said before. Rushing in general is not good. Rushing causes people to make snap decisions, get into traffic accidents, or rash judgments. And forgetting, I think we tend to forget so much in life because we are always rushing too fast to catch the details.
The second idea I’ve always had about these words is one that’s I think is more uplifting. Here’s a song for it…I think it’s about savoring life. Doing things at a pace of awareness and enjoyment and yet productive. Taste your food, enjoy the textures, the way it looks. Don’t eat like you’re Tom Hanks back from being stranded with a volleyball.
Be present in movement, feel your feet on the ground and occupy every inch of your body. Move too fast, things get sprained or torn. It’s not about how many, it’s about how well you do it. Hurried gets your quantity, languishing gets you nowhere. Middle ground.
Think about emotions and being quick to allow them to overcome your senses and behaviors. Letting them rush in and drown you. Or feeling nothing at all. The middle is to allow them in, feel the feelings but don’t become your emotions or ignore them.
Again, the balance, the equilibrium…it’s hard.
I think that’s why people like quotes, they’re like mile marker signs on a highway, to keep you on the path, let you know this is indeed the right direction. To help keep your chin up in times like these.
And I just always find comfort in hearing other people’s thoughts or stories. It doesn’t matter if I agree or not it just gives me the sense that if someone else could survive this life, then so can I.