On Slowing Down: We Cannot See Our Reflection in Running Water

What are you learning from COVID19?

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By Maryanne Pope

“We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.”

– Taoist Proverb

This self-isolation business is teaching me a few things. First off, it was about flippin’ time I sat my butt down in one place for a significant amount of time and got some long-overdue writing and other work tasks accomplished.

I have been traveling too much. Yes, it’s been fun. Yes, I’m glad I traveled when I did because who knows when we’ll be able to again.

But quite frankly, the planet is likely breathing a sigh of relief for this much-needed reprieve from all the air travel done by yahoos such as myself.

Fact is…our atmosphere is dangerously overloaded with carbon dioxide. We are rapidly reaching the point of no return. What will it take to get us (myself included) to change our ways and make the incredibly difficult shift away from fossil fuels as our main energy source?


Darn this COVID19 situation: it’s forcing us to slow down and perhaps do a little uncomfortable reflecting on our personal lives and planetary matters.

But I know a wake-up call when I get one (this isn’t my first rodeo in that department). The time has come for me to slow down, hunker down and get some serious work done. And that, I am pleased to report, is exactly what I have been doing for the past few weeks…and will continue to do in the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, with the slower pace (no afternoon errands to run or evening activities to attend), I find myself taking more time to just sit quietly and listen to what my soul might be trying to tell me. This is turning out to be very good for business.

One the one hand, my productivity is vastly improved…I am achieving a great deal more work. But I think the quality of that work is also better.

By slowing down and not rushing through tasks at a break-neck speed, not only am I receiving more intuitive insights, I am also better able to apply those insights to the relevant project. In other words, I am taking the time needed to complete challenging tasks and projects — versus trying to bring about that completion in the time I want it to take.

I am also taking more breaks and going out for walks in nature. This, naturally, is also causing me to spend more time in quiet reflection. And one of the things I reflected on this past week was the 6th anniversary of my Mom’s passing. But it wasn’t her death I found myself thinking about. Rather, it was a specific memory. A few years before she died, our family went on a cruise together to Alaska. We had a ball! But when the time came for us to disembark on the last day, I was wheeling my Mom in her wheelchair down the ramp. She was wearing her big white sunglasses and bawling her eyes out.

“Mom,” I said. “What’s wrong? We’ve had a wonderful time. Are you sad to go home?”

“No,” she said. “I’m sad the cruise is over. I don’t want this party to end.”

None of us did. Unfortunately, all parties end…eventually.

And I cannot help but notice that as the COVID19 virus runs it course, it would appear our planetary party is being forced to slow down. Now is a perfect — some might say prudent — time for reflection.

One of the biggest things I’m taking away from this time-out is gratitude.

In particular, I have a profound appreciation for all the front-line healthcare workers who are risking their own health, day in and day out. Same goes for all the other workers who do still have to be out in public places…from first responders to grocery-store cashiers, thank you.

I am very grateful to be able to work from home, safe and healthy. I am thankful for my personal financial situation. The economic fallout of all this will be staggering. For many, it already is.

None of us know what the future holds. But this I know: how we spend the present has an impact on how that future — personal and planetary — unfolds. For those of us in the position to do so, it would be prudent to use this time of reflection wisely.

This story was originally published on Pink Gazelle and republished on The Good Men Project.

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