My world is the fast paced, traffic filled, takes you 45 minutes (if you are lucky) to get on the other side of town environment of DC. It’s a world of people who are savvy and excited about enjoying life. It’s a world of independent, overachievers who want to make a difference in something that they believe in. It’s a world where at every point you turn around you’ll find a room full of overcommitment people multitasking. (Seen anyone at dinner with a cell phone in hand lately?)
The energy that surrounds my city is contagious. Not only is DC a populated urban area, but politics is a part of life in everything that happens around town. It draws you in quickly and invites you to join its own rhythm as it did for me the first time six years ago in the summer of 2005. Living in a city and region such as this is truly exciting, no matter what party is in office! There’s always such fun things to do. There’s always such fun folks coming through town. It’s a great place to live . . . don’t get me wrong.
Yet, with all of this being the case, I’ve been pondering lately how the lifestyle of “every weekend booked weeks in advance” “working every night until 8″ and “a day off, what is that?” is simply too much.
This spring I’ve had the opportunity to travel more than normal– both for professional events and vacation– each of these trips which just happened to be in peaceful places: Sedona, AZ, in the mountains of Ashville, NC and then recently to Harper’s Ferry, WV. Being in a place where you can hear the birds and see the rich colors of the trees and stare up at the brightest blue sky, has slowed me down to the point of being reminded that DC culture of let’s out achieve everyone else is just not normal. And, it might be too much.
From the pastoral lens that I see life through, I know that God has called each of us to life that is abundant. Not abundant in the sense of getting everything we want like some tv preachers are frequently speaking about, but having a life that is rich in relationships, rich in quiet time, rich in jubilation, rich in contributions, and rich in time to process life’s harder moments. But, finding balance in all of this and being in an emotional and spiritual place to receive it, takes having “time out” days that grow into “time out” lifestyles. For simply learning part of what it means to be human is realizing our limitations.
Limitations is not something that the idealistic crowd and the churches that pastor such folks often want to hear, but it is true. Unless you or I woke up this morning and found out that our name was God, the truth is that we can’t do everything our heart desires even if the desires are seemingly good.
So many folks in this town take to heart the words of Gandhi who said, “Be the change that you want to see” thinking that this means we have to be EVERY change we want to see and then proceed to tire ourselves out with more than we can really do that well anyway. Yet, does it have to be like this?
Based on our life situations and personalities, all of us have a pace that is comfortable for us, even if our employer, family or friends seek to run faster, longer and harder than we ever could. A focused life of simplicity is a courageous choice and comes as we are ok in running our race differently. Are we able to seek out our own abundance even as others might look at us at committed, lazy or unavailable?
Because in the end, we might just realize that in answering invitations to go and do by saying, “No, it’s just too much for my week” we find the freedom to actually enjoy the life we are currently living.