Slow Down

‘I wake up tired these days.’

I’ve made this statement so many times it’s beginning to feel like an anthem- if it isn’t already. These past few months have been hectic. I sleep so little and wake up with heaviness that can move mountains- stinging my eyes.

There’s just so much to be done. And the time never seems to be enough. School work piles up so much they begin to fall into each other and we are left standing at the center of the rumble.

We complain about the stress when we bump into each other, when we’re waiting in a queue, when we’re finishing off the last paragraph of an assignment. Somehow it finds its way in our conversations but probably because it’s real, almost tangible, strangling us at the throats. And when I sink into bed at the end of a long day, there’s a constant cry in my chest: when will this end? When will this end?

Mother said it never will. And half the time, the women who raise us are right.

“Slow down”, she says to me- when I’m running to catch a bus, when I’m reading late into the night and hurting my eyes, when I won’t finish my meal because “There’s just so much to be done”. When I walk around the house, shuffling my feet, tired from tiredness, feeling heavy and suspended by the stress.

“Slow down,” she says.

Back in the hostel, when my roommates are not yelling at each other over left dishes in the sink, they like to play dress up. They style their hair and dab powder on their faces and snap a series of future-threatening photos. I still don’t understand why they do so but that’s beside the point.

Sometimes they crop their feet out because their legs look funny and sometimes there’s a magic brush that removes all the blemishes of feminine terror. My favorite part is when they take deep breaths to tuck their tummies in so it appears flat.

I could start an endless list of the things I’m tired of hiding but not taking proper care of myself would definitely top that list. And maybe, the fact that I can dance and it’s not too perfect but I can move my legs to the beat and no one else knows because empty rooms behind closed doors have always been a best dance arena for champions.

The reality is disturbing but that doesn’t mean we get to run away from it.

We are sleeping late and waking up early. We forget to eat and when we do eat, it’s all the foods that harm our bodies. Our heads ache. Our legs are shaking beneath us. If our minds could talk, it would make gestures because it would be too exhausted to construct a proper sentence.

There’s a catastrophic imbalance between our hustle to survive and the need to live a healthy life. And if the strings aren’t adjusted soon enough, we will find ourselves with a bitter paradox: you work so hard for diamonds but you can’t wear them because you spent so much time breaking your neck in the mines.

In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.

This is Sid Caesar pulling me into a chair, giving me a cold glass of juice and just asking me to sit and breathe. Sit and breathe.

When I first saw this quote, I thought “Wow. This is just for me“. I saved it and never went back to it; like all the other things we just happen to come across and can’t bring ourselves to let go because, who knows? So we throw them in the back of the trunk and move on with our lives.

I saw this old reminder yesterday and it completely stole the air from lungs.

Because the truth is quite simple. We can tuck our fat bellies in but for how long? We can run around saving the world and bury ourselves beneath the ruins because, how bad could this possibly get?

Actually, it gets real bad sometimes. So bad you may never make it out of the ruins in time.

But the hero is also the one who saves himself. We can still be heroes if we come out of the ruins alive.

How long will we keep running, tiring our brains in the process? There’ll always be schedules, work to be done, places to go, dreams to be chased, a master plan to execute in grand style.

Getting the work done is great. But success is even better when you have lived well to enjoy it.

Put down your tools for a while. You’ve come this far and you’ll go farther but not with all the blunt edges.

Allow yourself rest.

Tend your body and sharpen ’em blades. The world won’t spin any faster. Nothing will catch fire while you’re gone. Go. Rest. Read a book. Stretch. Slow down. It’ll do you some real good.

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