I’ve just returned from the Emerald City from hanging out with family, attending Gender Odyssey’s Professional Conference (by the way, CR’s Traci was insightfully badass during the discussion portions of the panels we attended), adventuring in familiar and unfamiliar pockets of the city, and being reminded of the importance of slowing down and taking a breath.
You see, I’m an accidental workaholic. Although I am admittedly lazy by nature (translation: I will have food delivered from this restaurant across the street from my apartment because I don’t want to put on pants and go outside), I have a hard time being still. I barrel through the days with little awareness of how I survived my work week and with nothing substantial to show for my efforts. I sometimes go through the month without knowing the actual date.
Many of us were taught the value of being busy growing up. We were meant to feel accomplished when we were exhausted at the end of the day, but no one specified how we were meant to spend our time, and now we are busy just for the sake of it. Even during my time in Seattle, I stacked up my schedule so I worked in four hour chunks during random times of each day. As usual, I was glued to my phone, reading and responding to emails, text messages, and checking social media anytime I heard that familiar notification chirp. I was so wrapped up in the functional tasks of my day, I almost couldn’t get myself to slow down long enough to enjoy it.
I half-expected Seattle to have the same motivational current as Los Angeles, with everyone rushing to their next destination. Its dreamy stride was unsettling at first. I remember walking through Green Lake and being surprised by its wide open space and how familiar it felt despite the fact that I had never been to that park before. The sidewalks weren’t overcrowded with joggers. In fact, I was able to walk as slowly as I wanted. I was able to feel the dirt crunching under my shoes and breathe as deep as my chest could hold (which I rarely do in LA, because you know, dirty LA air).
I was completely present in that moment, aware of how the afternoon sun hit the back of my neck and how my arms cut through the air with surprising ease with each step. I didn’t feel claustrophobic, as I often do in LA. If I wanted to change the direction of my path, all I had to do was point my foot where I wanted to go. We are often so swept up in the routines of our daily lives that we forget we have the ability to change the momentum of our lives. When we slow down, either purposefully or because cell reception is spotty and makes you want to throw your phone into a lake (not that that happened to me, of course), we have an opportunity for us to assess where we are, but more importantly, to use our desire and agency to either stay on path or change course.
I sat at the water’s edge in Green Lake with my feet dangling above the dirt and rocks. The view was beautiful, spacious, and I knew exactly how I got there.
So this week, as I try to jump back into the chaos known as Los Angeles, I invite you all to take a breath wherever and however you need it. I had this playlist on repeat while I was exploring Seattle. It’s meant to be heard in a wide open space, a place where sound is able to travel effortlessly through the air.
Kristel is a sometimes angsty writer from Hawaii who now lives in Los Angeles, CA. She claims she’s a Marketing Director at a web design agency, but she spends most of her day in front of the computer while wearing pajamas.
Musical Temperance is her small attempt at creating the perfect soundtrack to help her survive an extended quarter-life crisis. Additional musings and playlists can be found at kristelyoneda.com.