For my self-care today I ate an orange. (or maybe a tangerine. or a satsuma. mandarin, perhaps?) It wasn’t the orange itself that was the self-care, though I could have done a lot worse, nutrition-wise. The self-care bit came from the fact that I sat at the table by myself in a quiet room and peeled and ate an orange, without doing anything else at the same time.
Yes, I am a Multitasking Mama (to borrow the name of a fantastic yoga class my friend Danielle teaches). I know the art of scheduling an appointment while settling a sibling battle while going pee. And I also know that this is a slippery slope. I may come to believe that anything worth doing is worth doing at the same time as everything else. I may mistake the sensation of busy-ness for the act of living. I may, to be frank, miss my life.
To do one thing at a time is so unusual in our culture that we may feel sheepish doing it. It’s downright counter-cultural. It’s radical. I was chatting about this with a student the other day whose elderly father was visiting. She confessed that she gets frustrated with him because he is so SLOW about things. But she had just realized that it’s not so much that he’s slow, per se, but that he refuses to attend to more than one thing at a time. And at the end of the day? A smile of revelation spread across her face. He’s accomplished an awful lot.
Years ago I had an experience that stuck with me. I was meeting an Alexander Technique colleague for a cup of coffee and when I arrived (rushing from something else, no doubt), he was already at the coffee shop sipping a nearly black brew from a ceramic cup. And doing nothing else. He wasn’t looking at his phone. He wasn’t reading a newspaper or working on his computer or scribbling in his journal. Did I mention he wasn’t looking at his phone?? In a shop full of busy people, he was enjoying a cup of coffee.
Hmmm…maybe that should be my self-care tomorrow. Want to join me?