What I learned in my down time.


It's pretty rare that I have down time. I am a bit of an obsessive worker bee. I often feel like if I'm not being productive, I'm not being. And the world is so crazy these days. If you're not careful, life becomes a never-ending stream of dings and beeps and "have-to-do's" and constant shifts and interruptions. From texts to social media to work to, well... EVERYTHING. In all of the hurry and scurry you can begin to lose yourself and all the joy in your life. 

I recently took some time off. Like, REALLY took some time off. No social media, no news, no extended family, no work, no packing up everyone to be somewhere, no expectations of anything happening. I was still a parent and a wife and a person with stuff to do to keep our little corner of the world spinning, but I turned off as much outside of that as I possibly could. I slept and I thought thoughts and I played board games with my kids. We finally finished reading Harry Potter 7 together. I filled the empty frames that have been waiting for years with actual photos. I made books of family photos for the years that I was behind. I cooked actual food and didn't just throw sandwiches at my kids between activities. I listened to music. I MADE music. I read books I wanted to read and went for walks. I exercised. I sometimes sat and just stared out the window. 

And I am feeling a little more whole again. 

During this time I stumbled across an amazing little book. Let me first start by saying the universe has this crazy habit of providing me with exactly the right things at the right time... as long as I am paying attention. When I allow myself quiet time, I more often than not have a moment of "of course!" So often I hear the exact song I need to hear, or my hands guide me to just the right book, or just the right person crosses my path and they say just the right thing. My "of course" moment was when I walked over to my bookshelf and randomly started looking at the titles of old books. I pulled this little, old book that I didn't even know that I had of the shelf...

The Majesty of Calmness by William George Jordan

Of course! I sat right down and read it cover to cover.  This tiny book was written in 1900. Because it was written so long ago, there are a few things that are out-of-date, but mostly it's as on point and true today as I'm sure it was back then.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

When man has developed the spirit of calmness until it becomes so absolutely part of him that his very presence radiates it, he has made great progress in life. Calmness cannot be acquired of itself and by itself; it must come as the culmination of  a series of virtues. What the world needs and what individuals need is a higher standard of living, a great realization of the privilege and dignity of life, a higher and nobler conception of individuality.

The man who is calm does not selfishly isolate himself from the world, for he is intensely interested in tall the concerns the welfare of humanity. His calmness is but a Holy of Holies into which he can retire from the work and get strength to live in the world. He realizes the the full glory of individuality, the crowning of his self-control is the majesty of calmness.

The man who has a pessimist's doubt of all things; who demands a certified guarantee of his future; who fears his work will not be recognized or appreciated, or that after all, it is really not worth-while, will never live his best. He is dulling his capacity for real progress by his hypnotic course of excuses and inactivity, instead of using a strong tonic of reason for action. 

Failure is often the turning point, the pivot of circumstance that swings us to higher levels. It may be new draughts of spiritual, moral, or mental inspiration that will change us for all the later years of our life. Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it. 

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower it's growth, the surer is it's lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives it's life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries. If you are sure you are right, do not let the voice of the world, or of friends, or of family swerve you for a moment from your purpose. Accept slow growth if it must be slow, and know that the results must come, as you would accept the long, lonely hours of the night with absolute assurance that the heavy-leaded moments must bring the morning.

Unhappiness is the hunger to get; happiness is the hunger to give. True happiness must have the tinge of sorrow outlived, the sense of pain softened by the mellowing years, the chastening of loss that in the wondrous mystery of time transmutes our suffering into love and sympathy for others.

If the Individual should set out for a single day to give happiness, to make life happier, brighter and sweeter, not for himself but for others, he would find a wondrous revelation of what happiness really is. The greatest of the world's heroes could not by any series of acts of heroism do as much real good as any individual living his whole life seeking, from day to day, to make others happy.

Each day there should be a fresh resolution, new strength, and renewed enthusiasm. "Just for today" might be the daily motto of thousands of societies throughout the country, composed of members bound together to make the world better through constant simple acts of kindness, constant deeds of sweetness and love. And happiness would come to them in it's highest and best form, not because the would seek to absorb it, but because they seek to radiate it.

So as I was feeling fretful and burned out  and guilty about taking time off... this little book said exactly what I needed in so many ways. Taking a quiet moment and taking some time out from the busyness of life led my hands to open this little book and recieve words of wisdom that were written down over 100 years ago. 

So if you haven't read this little gem, here's a link where you can read it for free. Take a minute and look it over. It's a quick read, but worth slowing down for. 

After you have read it, I hope you can allow yourself some quiet time. Whether it's a few minutes today or a whole day this week, any quiet time you can carve out is good. It's good for your mind, your soul, your heart and it's good for the people around you.

And maybe, just maybe you'll be able to receive some of  the messages you've missed in all the scurry.

(Of course!)

© 2018 Krysta Bernhardt. All rights Reserved.