This was my life a few months ago:
Monday – Up at 6:30 a.m. in Sioux Falls, out the door at 7 and arrive to work at 8 in Brookings. Work until 8 or 9 p.m. (sometimes 10 p.m.) Drive back to Sioux Falls. Then, edit and publish stories and answer emails for The Post. Bedtime on a good Monday was midnight, often later.
Tuesday and Wednesday – Do the whole routine to be at work at 8 and on the road back to Sioux Falls about 6 p.m. Evenings would usually consist of time with friends or work meetings, but rarely at home. Bed by 11 p.m. on Tuesday and a bit later on Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday – Work at The Post from 9 a.m. till 6, 7 or 8 p.m. Evening spent with friends, if not working.
Saturday – Tried very hard not to work these days, but often got caught up in something. Good day for cleaning and being with friends.
Sunday – Work, work, work.
Monday – Repeat.
I’ve always been a busy person, and mostly because I like being occupied. I feel guilty for watching a two hour movie, not mention laying around in bed with a slight, but not life threatening, illness. I’ve got to be moving, doing something.
However, the last year was the busiest I’ve ever been. Twelve months feel like two, jammed pack with long-work days, countless hours of driving and 4 a.m. business hours.
When I wasn’t working, I was spending time with friends as much as possible. I am not incredibly popular, but I prefer to have a packed social calendar. Even if it’s just hanging out in my apartment and eating cheese, I like being with my friends. I don’t do well with nights at home by myself.
Now, my life is drastically slowing down and it’s only going to continue this way. With only one thing to focus on, I find myself sleeping more, taking more breaks to watch trashy TV (I haven’t had a TV in over a year and won’t have one for the next two so I am indulging) and wayfaring through my to-do list.
Coincidentally, I’ve been getting up earlier and spending less time online. The excess of stimulation from Twitter, blogs and the general Internet is not as appealing to me and I prefer not to bother with it.
Still, I’m antsy. I’m not used to moving at this pace or being bored. My hands need to fiddle and my mind race, but both are quiet (or quieter now.) I am trying to relish in this newfound calm, but I find it irritating.
But it’s what I expected when I quit my jobs and moved home; I need to live slower and embrace each task with attention and see it for something other than mundane. In Niger, there won’t be the mundane or the routine, everything will be different. Everything, from ordering a cup of tea to finding water to brush my teeth. Also, life just moves slower in Africa. Projects are accomplished and decisions made at quite a different pace than in America. And there is nothing I can do but move with that flow.
My life will be slower, but it’s one of the reasons I decided to join the Peace Corps. I had this inane fear that if I didn’t learn how to slow down now, I never would. And what comes with a fast life – health problems, issues with family and friends – isn’t worth it.
I know that slowing down will be one of the most difficult adjustments for me, a woman who honestly cannot sit still, but, like the other changes, I’m ready to embrace it.