This is the last week of my month-long, post-op “medical vacation,” as I’d call it. It is a “luxury holiday” despite the pain and inconvenience of recovery that I have been going through. Time seems to have taken a totally different dimension when I no longer need to follow the strict pattern of the daily grind. Outside of the “grid,” or the “matrix,” life returns to how it is, not how it is “supposed to be”—the schedules and activities decided by anyone but me. I feel free, like a slave temporary out of imprisonment. Of course, returning to the prison is not a fun prospect, but for now, I’ll make the best of my remaining freedom!
On waking up, I don’t have to immediately start planning exactly what to do and how much time to spend on each little task during the short time before I hit the road. I would first spend a minute or two to feel if I have slept enough or if I actually need to sleep more. Sometimes I would lie there and listen to the birds sing for as long as I feel like, and just smile. If I have slept enough, I would slowly lift myself out of bed and conduct my routines, doing everything just slightly slowly than I would have to if I had to rush to work.
I love my morning rituals—saying a morning prayer, drinking a glass of warm lemon water, taking my nutritional supplements and making a protein shake with my favorite fruits. If I had to go to work, all these steps would be conducted in an assembly-line manner. But now, I can sit down at the dining table, look out the window, daydream a little and chat with my husband, who automatically joins me when he sees that I’m not in a rush. Then I would ask him to meditate with me.
As my husband is a very relaxed kind of person, doing everything at his own pace, we have had to do many things separately due to the fact that I have to go out and work a full-time job while he composes and makes music at the home studio. Not having to rush to work has allowed us more time to spend with each other. A luxury indeed.
After meditation, we would either go out and take a walk in the forest and by the beach, or if the weather is bad—it has been raining cats and dogs most of the month—I would let my inspiration pour on my computer screen. I have been able to revitalize an old blog (this one) and populate a new one (balletomanehk.com) without any strain. Sometimes I have so many good ideas that I have to schedule my posts so that my readers won’t be overwhelmed, LOL!
Writing has been my profession since I left school, but mostly it has been journalistic/business in nature. Creative writing is my passion. Well, I have yet to start writing any fictional work, which I would love to do in the future; and I haven’t been able to nurture my poetry writing skills. But at least I’ve started to write again—not for my job but for myself. And how differently I feel! Each time I write, I feel that I have dug a little deeper into my soul and spiritually grown a bit more.
Knowing that the luxury of free time does not come easily, I decided to stay focused while taking it easy on my relatively unstructured days. A nifty little tool, a Chrome extension called “Momentum,” has helped me do that. After installing it on my browser, the first thing I see is an awe-inspiring photo of Nature, and then a question: “What is your main focus for today?” followed by a blank. I would fill it out with unambitious and simple goals like “healing,” “make soup,” “grocery shopping” and the like. This really puts me at a “one-thing-at-a-time” mode, in contrast with the multi-tasking mode my mind has always been running on. If I manage to accomplish that one thing that I set out to do at the beginning of the day, I would go to bed very satisfied. But if I don’t manage, I would say to myself, “There’s always tomorrow.” How that has relaxed my mind as a result!
Another thing I have been able to do differently is to eat only when I feel hungry. Because of the externally imposed schedule at work, I have had to eat my meals at certain hours. But now I can let my hunger direct me, which is way healthier—as this would allow me to eat as much or as little as my body needs. Ever since I was a child, I was raised to eat at regular hours and to eat even when I was not hungry “in case” I got hungry later on and had no access or time for food. This had been my modus operandi ever since, but sometimes I felt that it wasn’t serving me right. Worse still, I have always been a fast eater—a result of growing up in this super crowded city of Hong Kong, where lunch time means literally running and fighting your way to get a seat in a food joint or get in line for your lunch box and finish your meal quickly, in time for class or work in the afternoon. Being a fast eater is so counterproductive for my health. So now I am trying to chew a little bit more carefully and eat a bit slower.
Since I put a great emphasis on cooking everything I eat, having to work a full-time job is not very forgiving. I have to be extremely well-organized and need to use most of my free time to do the grocery and food preparation. While I think it is all worthwhile for the great benefits this brings, I also think that the society is wrongly organized in such a way that this basic “human right” has turned into a “luxury.”
The Salon article “Is Michael Pollan a Sexist?” deals with this subject in quite an in-depth manner—worth a read if you have time.
Here is an extract from the article:
The official manifesto of the Slow Food movement cries for us to return to our preindustrial roots: Born and nurtured under the sign of Industrialization, this century first invented the machine and then modelled its lifestyle after it. Speed became our shackles. We fell prey to the same virus: “the fast life” that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest “fast- food.”
Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the “velocity” that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of “the fast life” with tranquil material pleasure.
How interesting that this has actually been my unspoken, unmanifested dream since a long time ago!
If I had a choice to get out of the “matrix,” it would be my dream to able to be grow my own food in a garden, as well as cook and learn to cook a lot more varieties of dishes in a unhurried manner. Adding to this dream is to publish a cookbook and create a YouTube cooking show 😉
Well, as far-fetched as it sounds given my living circumstances, and the “country” where I live in, I’ll keep my dreams and visions alive!
For the time being, I just need to make the best of my situation. I hope the feeling of a slow-downed life will stay with me even when I resume work. I remember how my mind was in a constant spiral, spinning and spinning non-stop, always thinking of my next move, making me feel frustrated and irritated whenever things didn’t get done at the speed I had wanted them to happen. Ultimately that generated so much stress in my system that my adrenals got weakened and I got burned out. Yes, it wasn’t actually the amount of work I had to do, but the feeling of helplessness, despair and being overwhelmed that made me burned out.
It’s time to take my life back to the slow lane and stop being a slave to the arms on the clock.