Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The Spaces In Between II

Last Summer I wrote a post about the importance of creating space in our lives, and how slowing down can really enhance one's appreciation for every day activities, like having tea or washing dishes. I'm in the fortunate position of having this week off of work, and so I've really been able to slow down and enjoy the spaces in my life.

As you can see in the picture, the fact that there is still a couple feet of snow on the ground didn't stop me from taking my book and a cup of tea out to the front porch today. The sun was warm, and in my flannel PJs and fuzzy slippers I spent a nice half hour outside, reading, sipping tea, listening to the birds and breathing in the crisp air of early Spring.

After coming back in, I did a little paperwork, made a phone call to the CSA Farm to set up a time to visit them later this week, de-cluttered and dusted my office, watched our two guinea pigs' antics for a while, listened to some music, made supper and finally whipped up some of Chile's famous hot cocoa just before sitting down to blog.

All of these leisurely activities really bring home the many things I have to be grateful for, such as: a job with good benefits, a cozy home, farmers to grow food, the simple aesthetic of having just a few things on a shelf, the unconditional affection of companion animals, the warmth of the sun, the good taste of simple food, and the time to appreciate all of these.

In taking the time to be grateful, I realize how much of a luxury these spaces in between really are. My mind leaps ahead to imagining what could happen if more of us in the Western world saw affluence in these terms - saw it in the spaces in between things, instead of in the things themselves. If we valued the time, the space, more than the stuff, maybe this would balance out better for those in other parts of the world who need a little more stuff, like food, clean water, clothes, medicine and mosquito nets. The balancing out would occur because people who feel gratitude for what they have would be more likely to feel compassion for others. Then, in my imagination at least, they would act accordingly through, for example, charitable giving, volunteering, activism, community-building, or just being neighborly.

A fast pace of life seems to leave room only for consumption and convenience, with little space or time for gratitude or compassion. A slower pace lets us be thankful, appreciative, and giving.

Either that or I'm just rationalizing my half-hour tea time on the porch.

13 comments:

Ruthie said...

I love this post. I agree totally about having a slower paced life. When I try to explain it to others it always comes out as sounding like I'm lazy! But seriously, maybe we need a bit more "laziness" if it means less heart attacks. :-)

Theresa said...

I know just what you mean about the laziness idea! Sometimes when I've talked to people about this, they say things like "I don't know how you find the time," which can seem like a veiled way of saying "you must not do a lot of housework."

The idea that we have to be busy all the time is unhealthy for sure, and it's ingrained in me just as much as in anyone else. So I do feel guilty sometimes when I read a book instead of dusting or building that solar oven I keep talking about. But I didn't feel guilty today, since doing this kind of thing is just what my week long "retreat to home" is all about.

Chile said...

Sitting and relaxing, whether with a cup of something tasty or a book, is important for mental health. I think these spaces make us more productive when we are working. And right now, I'm going to go sit and relax with a hot drink. Thanks for the idea!

Theresa said...

These periods of relaxation do really help! With the meditation practice I've been doing lately too, I can get into a relaxed mindset fairly quickly these days. That way, when things get all stressed-like, I just need a few minutes to de-stress myself. That skill really comes in handy at work and in all sorts of other situations!

Correne said...

Thank you for posting the link to the CSA. Do you know of any others in this area? I'm trying to find one on the south end of the city, since a trip across town plus 45 more minutes North is a really, really long drive.

artbystrongheart said...

What a lovely post.

Theresa said...

Correne - I don't know of any others, but I do know that these guys do a twice a week drop off at two spots in the West End. I will look that up and then get back to you over on your blog...

Alexah - thanks! :)

Theresa said...

The drop off points for the CSA are actually in Westmount and Strathcona, Correne - I have commented on your blog with more details...

arduous said...

This was such a beautiful post. Relaxation IS important. We can't be working every minute of the day. We need downtime too.

creme brulee aka GH said...

hi theresa, excellent post - it struck home.

one of my 2008 resolutions was to take a walking vacation and push camping gear to a small port south of London (Port Bruce, 65 km. away) in order to slow down and enjoy the view.

i'll write about the trip in my weekly column, I'm sure, and hope to have many positive things to report.

I also touched on it in today's post at Four Mugs.

again, well done.

GAH

Theresa said...

Thank you arduous and creme brulee :) Relaxing is one of my favorite things, as you can probably tell!

I think I took a ferry from Port Bruce one time - is that possible? To a place called Manitoulin Island? That was a long time ago....

Simply Authentic said...

So fabulously put Theresa! Glad you've been able to take time for the spaces of life yourself! Looks perfect....

Theresa said...

Now I have to work on doing this when I don't have the luxury of a week off of work!