I’m a born and bred Londoner but I walk like a New Yorker. I lived in NYC for two years. Over there, if you don’t keep up with the stampede, you get trampled on and die! This pace of walking has since become my default, regardless of the walkings purpose. It doesn’t matter if I’m just walking to the supermarket on a leisurely Sunday evening, I will march there as though I have an important meeting to get to and I’m already ten minutes late!
Over the past few weeks, my fast walk has been forced to a halt, as I’ve found myself frequently getting stuck behind some very slow moving elderly people. It’s the strangest thing! It’s been happening multiple times a day and has really gotten my attention. I’ll be walking to the gym* in the morning with a tightly planned schedule to stick to and suddenly, I’m trapped in a narrow construction pathway behind Mrs Shuffle and her zimmer frame! When I first became aware of these now regular interruptions, all my compassion went out the window. I’d get the sensation of a tight red knot in the pit of my stomach, spinning rapidly, growing in size and intensifying in colour. It was rage and it was excruciating. I began experimenting with various breathing exercises to try and calm myself down during these moments. The breathing helped a little but I was still getting a strong sense of urgency and panic running through me whenever I was caught behind a pensioner who was unintentionally holding up my day.
I believe that our external world is a reflection of our internal world. We are experiencing a mirrored reality, constantly informing us of where our awareness is in every given moment. If this is the case, which for me it absolutely is, then perhaps there is something within myself which is being reflected back to me through these elderly messengers, who have been triggering my struggle with the art of patience. Have these random recurrences actually been disguised opportunities for me to finally learn how to move beyond my impatience and into a more accepting and peaceful place?
It’s day 5 of my cleanse and something profound is happening. Slowly but surely my attention span is growing. My ability to focus is getting stronger and as a result, I am beginning to feel more comfortable in myself and in many areas of my life. That underlying sense of urgency is starting to cool down. This afternoon, I once again found myself caught behind a very slow moving elderly lady. This time, instead of wanting to scream “bitch get out my way!” I simply slowed my pace, willing. I genuinely wanted to offer her my arm so she could have someone to lean on. I wish I had done that in fact. I felt calm and warm towards her. I imaged her family and how they must love her. I thought about the stories she might have to share and the legacy she’ll one day leave behind. There was no hurry, I had all the time in the world. Can this be a result of taking distracting and perhaps destructive apps off my phone?
Another great thing I’ve found on this cleansing journey is how much less energy I spend in the day comparing myself to others. This was a BIG one for me. Mostly prompted by scrolling through Instagram. It is already significantly easier for me to feel genuine gratitude and satisfaction with all that I do have, and all that I am doing in my life right now. My ambition hasn’t changed, I still have desires and goals I am working towards achieving. Yet I no longer have a nagging feeling that others are getting it “right” and I’m not. This is a profound shift and I’m very excited about it!
I’m not suggesting social media is solely responsible for causing me anxiety, impatience and feelings of dissatisfaction. However, I do believe social media has become a breeding ground for unhealthy comparisons, ultimately resulting in negative self-talk. Negative self-talk leads to anger and frustration which make compassion toward others very difficult to access. We can only give that which we give to ourselves. Therefore, the more we decide that our lives are less perfect in comparison to others, the less kind we become towards each other. This is not a world I want to leave for the next generation. Acts of kindness and compassion need to be prioritised and this can only happen once we address how we speak to ourselves. Then we can effectively lead by example and show the next generation/s how to speak kindly to themselves and ultimately, how to treat each other.
*In the spirit of calling my own bullshit, I am fully aware that I mentioned the gym! Forgive me. I’m currently withdrawing from multiple sources of constant validation and mentioning that I go to the gym kind of takes the edge off.