First came the baby and toddler stages, gradually learning to think. Through primary and secondary school I was a studious, obedient kid who aced exams. Come university, I danced through a wonderful three years of undergrad, learning how to live alone and navigate the balance of work-hard, party-hard. 3 weeks after the Bachelor’s ended, the Master’s began. Two intense years later, I came back home to Kenya and straight into a field consultancy. Straight from the field consultancy to a full-time job with an NGO. Straight from the full-time job into another intensive consultancy. Here I am, 26 years lived.
Stop. Breathe. Did I ever? Do you ever? The rush of the river of life’s rapids has hurtled me full speed for a quarter of a century, yet I have not paused to think. Ponder? Question the breakneck speed my life has taken? Rather, I spin madly, leaping at every opportunity that presents itself, loving the thrill of the ride, yet never…pausing. Stopping. Breathing.
On any given day, I spring out of bed, brush my teeth and shower. Jump onto the computer and start writing or editing a piece, answering emails in between. At some point the time flashes red, and I fly (read “motorbike”) across Nairobi to arrive 10 minutes late to a meeting that I am leading. In the evening, I attend a thought-provoking event that opens my mind to something new. Once I get home and wolf down dinner, it’s back to the laptop screen again – either more emails, a work Skype, or if I’m lucky some nerdy reading…until sleep hits, then I flop onto my bed. A few hours later, the alarm rings. Rinse and repeat.
Stop. Breathe. Do I ever? Do you ever? The rush of the day’s rapids hurtles me full speed through every living second of every lived day, yet I do not pause to think, to ponder, to question what I am doing. I just hurtle blindly through life’s motions.
One hears about “conscious living” – but what is that, really? Recently I have been trying to be more present – to feel the air and the friction of my clothes when I walk, to feel the warm sensation of water when I shower. Sometimes I meditate in the morning, and it certainly brings my mind to a state of calm control. But these are temporary flashes – I am definitely not “consciously living.” And given my whirlwind life, numerous responsibilities, and 9 projects that I am currently running, there’s no relief now…
From 1st January 2017, I am going to press pause – on almost everything. I am going to stop. I am going to breathe. I will think. Ponder. Meditate. Question. How do I feel about this last quarter century? What do I want to do in the next one? How is this pace of life treating me, and how is it affecting those close to me? What changes do I want to make in my style of living? Once I have sat internally with myself, peacefully thought through my thoughts, and cleared my mind to a state of blissful nothingness, only then will I return.
It is time to breathe.