Slowing Down

My Experiment: Part 6 (You can read part 5 here Finding Balance)

The pace of my life continues to slow down, and the effect is transformational.

Every morning begins with a sunrise meditation on the beach. The rich amber tones of the dawn sky gradually lighten to blue. Venus and Jupiter have been visible before daybreak since I’ve been here, adding to the allure. Sometimes my mind is unsettled at first, but as the sun crests the horizon, gradually brightening the darkness behind my closed eyes and warming my skin, it grabs me like a tractor beam, wresting my being out of the grip of my intellect. The next half hour, before the heat becomes uncomfortable, is pure bliss, absorbed in the magnificence of the growing luminescence.

Many days conclude at the beach as well, a marvelous means to unwind with the transition from day to night, light to dark, active to subdued. The actual sunset is hidden on the other side of the peninsula, but splendidly lit clouds are often visible. Facing east allows me to witness the arrival of the stars, and I’m beginning to recognize the order of the procession. Sirius appears first, followed by Rigel, in the Orion Constellation. Then they pop out rapidly: Betelguese, Canopus, Procyon, Capella, like old friends arriving at a party. The whole performance unfolds to the soundtrack of crashing waves and that indescribable feeling of dusk. It’s been nearly a month, and the magic still consumes me every time.

Slowing down enables me to delight in simple joys like sunrise and sunset. Sitting on my porch, enjoying the shade and the cool ocean breeze. Watching an iguana climb a tree to eat the tender new shoots at the crown. The art of perfectly cooked rice. Hanging my laundry to dry in the sun. Sweeping sand out of my apartment. The daring acrobatics of capuchin monkeys cavorting in the trees. Settling in to moments like these fills me with a profound sense of contentment. Much different from the hectic, harried existence of my former life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’m even coming to appreciate my part-time, remote job as a biological database curator. Several years ago I did this work as a fulltime employee, and I was always rushing through the tasks, finishing everything as quickly as possible. Now that I’m slowing down and only working a couple hours per day, I’m learning to derive a sense of fulfillment from meticulously caring for the data. In my entire professional career, I never had employment that I really liked. I think that’s mostly because there’s no single profession I would like to do all day, every day. Working part-time enables me to pursue my other interests, which allows me to actually enjoy work.

However my brain is still finding things to get wound up about. It wants to slip back into the habit of feeling irritated by minor annoyances. Sometimes considerable effort is required to let go of the little inconveniences that arise. I discussed plans in my last post. I’m still required to create plans, around the tides, the bus schedule, yoga classes, etc., and I often notice myself living in the plan instead of the moment. But I’m catching it sooner, and each time it’s a tiny bit easier to release expectations, unwind, and surrender to the present.

You can read Part 7 here: Enjoying the Journey

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