Still

I have been thinking about stillness a lot lately.  What is means to be still.  Still in mind, still in body, still in spirit.  Still as in not moving, but also as in continuing.  Stillness, in the not-moving sense is not my natural state.  I talk fast, I move fast, I even drive fast.  I’ve written before of my history of frantic restlessness, of my almost tragic inability to slow down and be inside my life.  I’m changing these patterns, albeit slowly, oh so creakingly slowly.  But I am not a still person by nature.  I don’t sit still and my mind doesn’t stay still.

What I know now is that the constant motion and busy-ness is a way of avoiding the pain and the grandeur of right here.  But it’s also, genuinely, a response to a life full of demands.  It occurred to me, during my quiet August break, that there will always be somewhere else to be. The light on my blackberry will always blink red. The pages of my manuscript will always be there waiting for my eyes and my pen.  There will always be laundry to fold, errands to run, childrens’ needs to respond to, the phone ringing, emails piling up in my multiple email boxes.  There will not be a moment, ever, when being still, being here, is the default and the easy choice.  It will always require an active decision, and the turning away from things that are needed of me.

The challenge is to be still despite that. To be here anyway.  To choose stillness.

I thought of Rebecca’s beautiful description of an encounter with a dragonfly.  Her long, still moments in the water, when the dragonfly landed on her body and stayed, were nothing short of holy.  And it is clear that the dragonfly chose to land on her precisely because she was already being so still.  When we are still we are open to receive the sacred, to see the divinity in our lives.

And so as we hurtle headfirst into the busy, fuller-than-full month of September, I am reminded, again, of the need to actively commit to stillness.  Reminded that I will always have to choose it over other obligations, many of which are completely valid in their claims on me.  And I must still, over and over, be still.  Still choose stillness.

Still.


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8 Comments

  1. Posted September 1, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Though choosing stillness is sometimes a default for me, it’s more of an avoidance tactic. But learning that life will always be moving, whether we actively engage moment to moment or not, and that we need to learn stillness despite that is an amazing life lesson. This post hits very close to home. xo

  2. Posted September 1, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    It is a choice–and a hard one in our culture of “go, go, go.” Stillness is something I am working on as well. For me, it’s a quick 1 minute meditation. Taking a second to notice my breath and to slow it down. I find that then things begin to slow down.

  3. Posted September 1, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the reminder, Lindsey! xo

  4. Amy
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Welcome back! This post resonates with me as I sit on the beach and try to just be here and no where else

  5. Posted September 1, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I am so with you on this one. And with Alisha – meditating, even briefly is a real reset for me.

    I was just writing this morning about chaos vs. calm. I wonder if I will ever get out of crisis management as a way of life…

    Thanks for this.

    XOXO

  6. Posted September 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes, my friend. Today, I put myself in the woods, hiking with the kids to try to quiet the rapid pace of my brain. It just barely worked. But I kept trying to be there instead of in between.

    This is beautiful. (As are you.) xo

  7. Hannah
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I am an old friend of Abby L’s from Vermont and I read your blog from time to time and I connect to it in many ways. I think you might enjoy a book by Sarah Susanka- “The not so big life”. I have to remind myself all the time to step back and remember to enjoy the small things.

  8. Susan
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Love this post . . . Although I’m hard pressed to think of anything you’ve written on your blog that doesn’t strike a chord with me in some way. This one reminds me of the quote attributed to Socrates, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

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  1. By Swinging Into September | ivy league insecurities on September 8, 2011 at 3:03 am

    […] on life’s swing, isn’t it so hard to be still? Even when there is no one to push us, even when we do not hurl ourselves forward, the swing […]