It was a seriously weird week.
First thing on a Monday morning I crashed my car. Badly enough that it’s undriveable and possibly written off.
This happened on the same morning I found a poodle shitting on our lawn just as I was getting in the car. It was also the same day that started sunny, got really windy then got stormy and back to sunny again in a matter of a few short hours.
As I got out of the car – pretty shaken and dazed from the weirdness of it, I silently thanked myself for wearing comfortable shoes that day. The next part is a blur of phonecalls and broken English conversations as the other parties panicked/ pressured and got a bit shouty.
But this is not the real story.
In the aftermath of that moment I was forced to walk home carrying the equipment I needed to take to work (trying to get a taxi on a Monday morning is an exercise in futility it seems). I haven’t been able to take as many walks lately as I’d like with arthritis pain being a big barrier. But – like a totally weird pilcrimage – walk home I did.
On this walk I got slightly lost – in my own neighbourhood. Or should I say – the streets I usually drive by on the way to somewhere else. Carrying awkwardly shaped bags as I was, stopping from time to time and going at an unrushed pace was necessary.
What I observed was a slowing down of my senses, through physical necessity. I observed the shifting character of the streets. I walked through parks from different angles. I remembered moments of joy I had spent in those spaces.
Flash forward to today where I have spent two weeks using public transport to get to work, and without ready access to a car have been forced to slow down and make deliberate, essentialist choices about my time and my activity.
I’m always the one who accommodates – the one who goes out of my way to help or make it easy for others. I do it at work, I do it with my friends and I do it with strangers in line at the supermarket. I take on your problem and discomfort as my own and try to fix it for you. It’s the guilty fat girl in me who just wants you to like me… and I’ve had to quickly un-become her as my available resources have diminished.
This period of time and these constraints are teaching me a valuable lesson about what matters and where my energy is best spent. It allows me to set boundaries.
But it also opens up a space where I have to accept kindness.
This is possibly a harder lesson – we’re taught that we must be ever resilient and never admit our weaknesses. As women we are told that we must be “better than” in order to take up our place in the world.
Creating a softness around the expectations that you have of yourself is a way of uncovering the essential. Extreme experiences bring this into sharp focus.
And now – on the train.
The world whips by and in that space between here and there, the inert space which has no pressure to do or be, I think.
It’s a space of contemplation I haven’t had time for lately. All the busyness that crowded into the drive home – gone.
And I’m thankful for the inconvenience.