I was listening to a speaker recently as he talked about the importance of living life with some margin — space to breathe between activities. What I found fascinating about the whole concept is that the idea isn’t in the least new or groundbreaking, at least not to me.
But as I listened to him, I realized that it wasn’t about taking that vacation or sleeping in an hour longer; it was a state of heart and mind — a deliberate attempt to pause during a hectic day or life and breathe, soak up some much-needed air and exhale all that pent-up tension. Like the white spaces in the notepad we all write on, our lives need some time and place when we allow our entire being to relax and be.
No rushing to the next appointment, no getting out of bed in a frenzy, no hurrying off to achieve the next big thing — just letting go for a few minutes and allowing nature to take its course. One of my best phrases for this is ‘vegging-out’.
Everything in life happens at a time and for a reason. You can try to speed things up, change their course and manipulate the outcome, but inevitably, life does happen when it chooses to. So, by all means, work hard for the goal you are trying to achieve, but don’t go overboard. When you can, take a few minutes to breathe. If you don’t get what I mean, how about this — imagine you plant a seed today, and then you stand there and plan to watch it grow. Will your staring down at the ground make your seed grow any faster? Absolutely not.
In the same way, going crazy and driving everyone else crazy while trying to achieve your goal will not necessarily get you there any sooner. As a matter of fact, this sometimes delays you because people get tired of your insanity and give up on you. So breathe; it’s okay for things to fall out of place sometimes. It’s okay to experience some delays — it’s definitely not the end of the world.
Some breathing space during your day refreshes you, releases the pent-up tension of trying to be, and allows you to draw new inspiration and see new opportunities that you might have missed had you remained on your fast lane driving like a lunatic through life. Slow it down a notch.
One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is “to everything; there are a time and season”. There is a season for everything in life; don’t force it, don’t attempt to manipulate it. When the time is right, you’ll know, and it will work out just fine. Not a second before or after. I think that nature figured out the just-in-time concept before we all did, and it has orchestrated the cycles in life to work out exactly the way they should.
So if everything else in life is on a calendar, why should you worry yourself to death about something you can’t speed up or change? Why not just work at it, give yourself some breathing space and pace yourself to a sensible rhythm?
Some achieve greatness as kids, some as young adults, others may very well get to their senior years before they can even get the big break they have always dreamed of. The point is that it will happen at some point in time. Why burn out before the spotlight is turned on you? Why die before your time?
Take some time to breathe, turn down the insanity in your life. Cancel some trips, call off some appointments, put in some blank space in your lifetime to veg-out. You can sit, sleep, run, walk; whatever you need to do to relax, go ahead and do it. Time chimes back softly, our days on this side of the earth are concise, and the truth is that you can’t control everything.
Take your life in strides, your task in chunks, your achievements in moments — as sure as the day comes, the night will follow and then the day again and the night and so on. All of life is perfectly balanced.
When life gets crazy, and it seems as if it’s all spinning out of your control, breathe, perhaps recite the serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer sums it up so beautifully.
Now, as someone who naturally likes to run things on a schedule, I can tell you that I find this extremely difficult to do. I belong to the percentage of humans who need to fill in every second of the day with an activity. I need to know what we are doing, when, how, by when; I need to be in ‘control’ of every moment of my day. I know how difficult this whole ‘space’ concept can be and how irritating ‘waiting’ can be to some of us. But I have also learned that life rarely goes your way, so you had better leave space for the contingencies when this happens.
If you take anything out of this, let it be this: breath, pace yourself, breathe again. Creatively add some spaces into your daily work and life.