The wooden steps going down from the back door of my 2nd floor apartment are tall, wide, and imposing.
I can’t remember the moment my feet left these steps and flew to the sky. My life skips from walking down the stairs, my daughter, Aviendha, on my left hip and a bag of garbage in my right hand, to us sliding down them on my posterior.
As I slid, yelling out in pain and horror, I tried desperately to find a way to stop my slide. But suddenly I had no hands. I know I held onto my daughter. But I don’t know where my free hand went. Did it still hold the garbage? Did it flail around in confusion? Or did it, too, grip my daughter, holding her aloft from the bouncing planks of wood?
When we did stop, my swears made the air turn black and blue. I used the worst. I used the loud. I hurt. I was in too much pain to move, and I was several steps up so couldn’t put my unhurt daughter down without her possibly falling as well. So I yelled. I couldn’t get out anything useful like “help.” So I just kept swearing loudly as I scanned the backyards around me for signs of life.
My landlord was working in the apartment next to mine and came running. That’s when I stopped turning the air black and blue, and started bawling my eyes out. When I could breath again, I handed him my child, slowly got to my feet and tenderly paced the driveway.
Aviendha, delighted at the opportunity to be outside, stomped around in the snow and cheerfully chirped, “Slide! Slide!” Not, thankfully, referring to our recent slide, but to the little plastic one sitting in the backyard.
Later that afternoon, as I lay sideways on the couch with ice packs on my ass–Aviendha safely bestowed upon her dad for the night–I felt the urge to do something. Anything. Something. Something useful. Like the dishes or work or folding laundry or cleaning my room. I talked myself out of it. I had aches starting around my tail bone and heading up through my spine; I was in no condition to multi-task. And then I started thinking, “How often, in the last few weeks, have I not multi-tasked?” “How often have I hung out with my child without actually doing anything useful at the same time?” Never, as far as I could tell.
There is a sign hanging on my kitchen wall. I placed it there a few days ago as I was negotiating my way through the wilds of my head. Voluntary Simplicity. Apt timing, don’t you think? It took a tired lapse in judgment, sending me to the sky and hurtling me back down to the earth, to wake me up to the speed of my life.
I believe, it’s time to slow down.
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