Friday, May 10, 2013

Notes from a Snail

This morning, having returned home after my tri-weekly group exercise regimen, as I was standing in the kitchen and stirring the high protein liquid breakfast du jour and staring off into the silence, all the unfinished conversations from the morning started coming back to me. I could remember how most of them started, but not how they ended…

How did I respond when Mary Anne asked me if I had received a certain group invitation that went out? Was I gracious and excited? I know she really extends herself on these get-togethers…We were interrupted by John, who just wanted to say bye on his way out…Was I present enough? He must be going through a lot with his upcoming move of wife and children to a whole new State. And how about Ben? How did I respond to his joke? And Lisa? Did I say bye? I know she’s still feeling like the new kid since she switched back to our 6a.m. group….

All these thoughts start piling up and sometimes can make me feel anxious. Interactions seem to occur so rapidly that I often feel the sting of not having had the chance to give them the care and love that I would have wanted to. Most of the time, I can let this go, but sometimes I start working backwards and injecting words of affection into where I feel there were gaps left in the moment and I end up sending a couple text messages.  A ‘You rocked it today! See ya Friday!’ here or a ‘Oh - was gonna say, if you need moving boxes, I have some. Lemme know :)’ there.

I stop stirring my protein blob as I wonder if anyone else of the around 20 people who were there this morning are doing what I am doing right now? I mean, nobody does this, right?! Everyone has let go and moved on, right?! And if they do have a quiet moment to think, it is probably filled with expectations of the future rather than investigations of the past, right?

Welcome to life as a snail. Yes, I made peace with it long ago. If this great human ecosystem were a forest, then yours truly would be a snail. In a forest, snails make sense. They have their role and they do their thing in a great orchestra of symbiosis. The seasons aren’t going to pass quicker because the snail moved faster. It’s only in this human ecosystem where productivity is King that being a snail is sort of a problem. If you wanna get ahead in life, you gotta be a hawk. Hawks like change, hawks like movement, exploring new heights, pushing boundaries, hawks gets promoted, hawks show leadership, hawks eat snails…for breakfast…

You call us all sorts of things - introverts, sensitives, Kaphas, or just plain weird. You complain about how we drag our feet when it comes to change. You see, it’s because we move slowly that we hear the things that are said about us behind our backs and, to be honest, they are mostly true. Like a snail, I experience the world generally in one of two ways, as it passes by outside without me at a rate that doesn’t interest me or so intensely up close and personal that its jagged ridges are churning up against my entire being. My slime shield is my sense of humor and joyful nature. Yes, I have a slime shield. I feel everything. Often, I have to pull back from the world whenever I can for as long as I can because I get tired of feeling everything. Sometimes I can only access my own feelings after a period of solitude. It replenishes me. I don’t own a TV and I don’t seek out the news much. If there is news I must know about, one of my friends will call me. If I ever apply to a job with you and my CV indicates that I like to multitask – I lied. I don’t (note to self – edit CV). What I do like is to see animal shapes in the clouds, to interact with only one or at the most two people at a time and I like sweet things that take forever to dissolve in my mouth, like Werther’s. At a very different rate and magnitude, I like all the things a hawk likes. I like growth and change and seeing things.

You know what else snails do? Snails ask themselves what animals others would be in this great human ecosystem so they can love them better… I have a friend who is a hummingbird. She thrives when she gets to move at a million miles a minute. She lives in Manhattan and I have made sure she never visits me in my sleepy desert town. She would lose it. I too once lived in Manhattan – I started developing kidney issues and hair loss from the stress. In this magical human forest, there are all sorts of animals - there are squirrels, and moles, and owls, and lions, emus, and wolves, giraffes and bumble bees. Some days I start out a hyena and then go back to being a snail and under the right conditions one can bring the lioness in most any woman, like if you threaten her cub… Point is, we are all so beautiful in who we are, no? Yes.

You, dear reader, may well be a powerful bird, like an eagle, but you are probably not a hawk. While you blend well with hawks, a full-fledged hawk likely wouldn’t be reading this; they would have rolled their eyes at my slow verbal meanderings by now, lost their patience and gotten on with stuff ages ago. And the thing is, I love them for it! Because why would I expect a hawk to do what a snail does? I don’t expect myself to do what a hawk does. It would only bring suffering. I am certainly willing to be a very fast and productive snail, I will even wear a hawk suit some days and sit in on the meetings where we all pretend to be hawks, but I will never again expect of myself to be a hawk.

So, this is a time where the world values hawks - efficient, far traveling, git-er-done hawks. That’s okay. It’s not the hawks’ or world’s fault that this is the time to be a hawk. The hawk deserves its time in human history. But sometimes hawks need to come home somewhere and sit down at a table where a snail has made homemade scones from scratch and hot chocolate and will run their fingers though their tired feathers and just listen… Listen to the hawk talk about how everything is clearly for the birds.