When I go slow, I feel sluggish

Going slow sounds peaceful. But what do you do when it’s fatigue, a fog of unmotivation, flat. Dare I say, depressed?

Here’s how I do life: accelerate, brake, accelerate, broken

Millipede on a motorbike. Laura Eades 2015

Millipede on a motorbike. Laura Eades 2015

Phase 1) Ambition: Inspiration and bright ideas are my petrol. Hope. Hope is my petrol. I’ve got a bright idea about getting somewhere and I reckon if I go all-out I can get there. My creativity is pumped and impatient, I’m itching to start work even though my ideas are half-formed. My ego is tantalised, because when I get there I’ll be an achiever. And clearly, I’ll be purposeful while I’m on my way there – my main deeper yearning – and I’ll have demonstrated that there’s a reason for me to be here by the time I’m there too, so I will have resolved my major life purpose dilemma too.

Phase 2) Burnout: I sacrifice everything to get there, and then feel I haven’t proved enough, the yearning for purpose hasn’t gone away, I”m burnt out and spend some time lazing about in bed with novels, and then get another project to pull me up.

Phase 3) A mad handicraft project: I mope around and usually invent a project that pulls me out of it, something arbitrary and crafty, like cutting out trees and nailing them to the wall to make a forest frieze. Something that feels palmitchy, urgent and tangible, and looks on the outside like a monumental waste of time and energy and a massive red herring. Or sometimes it’s something regenerative and decluttering: trying to sell everything in the cellar on ebay, or trying to revamp our home’s recycling system. Well that’s the discomfort of not knowing what your life purpose is. You might as well be doing your wall art project as retraining as a paramedic. Anyway, by the time I’ve accomplished the mad miniproject, or decided it’s a distraction from The Main Thing, I’m ready to throw all my energy into a big ambition again, and there we are, back to phase 1.

I’ve been wondering how to attain the holy grail of SLOW

Snail takes it easy. Laura Eades 2015

Snail takes it easy. Laura Eades 2015

I know I need to slow down. I know I need to learn an existential evolutionary lesson called SLOW. I used to have a theatre company called The Honourable Society of Faster Craftswomen, and I found FAST addictive and self-importantly busy and heroic. But since I’ve realised I needed SLOW, I’ve wondered how I’d achieve it, and fantasised about how it would feel: relaxed, gentle, connected, embodied, sociable, blissful.

Sometimes, when I have a chance encounter with a moment of slow, it can be luxurious: Wakeful slowness is as delicious as sitting under a palm tree noticing the shifting shadows. Walking on air after hours of retreating into a yoga studio.

And there are times when I’m on holiday, and I’ve forgotten all about projects, and I just want to ride bikes and eat nice lunches and lie by a pool and notice and savour everything and be inside my body and with my loves. I believe it’s called relaxation. It’s lovely. It’s heaven.

What if SLOW doesn’t feel like a yoga retreat?

Slugs can't hoover. Laura Eades 2015

Slugs can’t hoover. Laura Eades 2015

Hello SLOW. Now bog off please!

Slow is upon me, out of the blue, and it feels awful. I forgot it felt like this. Why did I think I needed this? Make it stop! Or rather, make it start again! This is horrible! I hate SLOW! This is not me! C’mon, girl, get going, rev up!

Slow just came out of nowhere. A patch of low energy. I’m not burnt out, and I’m not ill, and I’m not doing a project. But I’m not on holiday and it’s not heaven. I just can’t be bothered to fulfil the obligations I invented for myself. I feel a little overwhelmed, in fact, by the task of completing the obligations I already invented for myself.

I feel a bit flat, a bit depressed, a bit bereft of purpose. I don’t see the point in doing projects, but part of my mind is scanning for something new, something instantly achievable, the energy of beginning something.

Maybe this kind of ‘slow’ is exhaustion of the brainmuscle that’s trying to make decisions about what it’s worth devoting your time to.

But here’s the new thought: maybe, if I just am slow for a bit, it’ll just run its course!

This time, I didn’t tell myself I had to jimmy out of it. I just got some novels out of the library and let myself have some extra siestas. I didn’t rescue myself from depression with kneejerk creativity. I thought: Maybe it’ll pass like the weather.

Granted, it wasn’t just me who had to weather it. I wasn’t a very lovely Slowcoach. I was grumpy and reluctant and I kept going to bed before my 2-year-old, leaving my husband to finish my day for me. Thanks to him for his patience.

The reality is, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing

What if I didn’t fill the life purpose space with emergency lifejacket projects? What if I learned to live with this uncertainty, to be gentle with this drudge, to see what arises from this fog? Is there blue sky above these clouds, even I don’t flap my wings frantically trying to get there? Just trust that it’s there. That I have little energy right now. So don’t take on anything. Don’t promise to bake anyone a cake.

It’s a little frightening, what’s underneath our busy activity

Is that how much energy I really have when I’m not forcing it? That’s quite scary to me. Will more come along from somewhere if I don’t get petrolpumped up with some mad creative scheme?

I don’t know. But I might learn to live with this rhythm. Mightn’t I? I don’t want to! Don’t want to! It feels slow it feels ropey and mopey. Perhaps luscious slow is just around the corner. Perhaps I have something to learn. I hope.

One week later: on the other side of that fear

Was it just a week? Two, maybe? A whole month? It felt like a year.

A sunny morning came. I don’t know where the energy came from or shifted, but it did. A friend was coming over. I got the hoover out. We hoovered together, with great pleasure. It only took 10 minutes. It was so satisfying watching all the rice cake crumbs zoom away.

You don’t need to get motivated

If you feel flat, I want to say this: You don’t need an action plan. You don’t need to march yourself out of it. Just wait. Life ebbs and flows. In its unfolding, a day will come when you feel like hoovering. Maybe in its unfolding, a purpose will emerge too, maybe it won’t look like a project.

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