Slowing Down

Over the past few months, I’ve come to approach life with a slower perspective. Although, that isn’t to say that my life itself has slowed down. If anything, I feel like my life is more hectic than ever, but rather than view things evolving day by day, I am noticing how growth occurs over the span of months and years.

Recently, I started playing a computer game called Stardew Valley. This simple, relaxing game tells the tale of a young man who is fed up with his corporate job at Joja (think of a capitalist behemoth crossbred between Walmart and Amazon). He inherits his grandpa’s farm in a small town and the game is essentially focused on growing crops and befriending the villagers.

Everything in this game, despite it’s “slower pace living” is sped up when compared to real life. Each day is maybe 20 minutes in real life, so plants grow to maturity within the hour, skills are developed within minutes, and the entire year is done in a matter of days. As I play this game, I also think about my work in my yard—how painstakingly slow it is to notice any growth whatsoever on my camellias, how slow it is for buds to begin forming on my hydrangeas, and how two months later, my daikon are still measly little roots.

In the rest of my life, my guqin progress is slow yet steady, and the million things I’m trying to read are moving along at a crawl. Many nights, I’ve thought, ah, if only I could speed all of this up. But then I remembered a line from a virtual tea workshop I attended: “If you enjoy it, why rush?”

This year especially, there is no rush. No deadlines to complete for any of this. Just working diligently and continuing is good progress. I can do my work and relish every moment of it. Each time I fumble over a song, I have the chance to practice it again. Each time one of my camellia cuttings die, that is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. With growth and learning as the goal, it’s not a matter of initial success rate as much as it is developing my skills.

That’s not to say that I enjoy dawdling either. The sooner I learn one song, the sooner I can work on other things. The sooner I figure out how to root my cuttings, the sooner I can plant them and move on to other plants. But in hurrying, I am trying to be extra careful in not rushing. Just like morning dew, each moment is a precious jewel which appears at dawn and disappears by dusk.

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