When I was growing up, our neighborhood gang of friends would play a chase and capture game. Strategically positioned throughout the designated boundaries of the game were “ghouls;” places that if your body was making contact to the exact spot, you were safe. For a few sweet and nerve racking moments you were secure, free from harm. And then just as quickly, you were thrust back into the frenzy of the chase. It sometimes feels to me that this is the game we grown-ups continue to play. Rushing from one thing to the next, we momentarily touch down, only to propel ourselves back out into the busyness of our lives.
Life is not a game of capture and chase. Nor is life an emergency. And yet, that is exactly how many of us are living. We slam from place to place throughout the day; skidding across the finish line of our to-do lists and responsibilities, both exhausted and wired. Even the so-called “healthy and good” things we do for ourselves, like going to a yoga class, rev us up as we race to get there on time. Living in a state of emergency stresses our digestion, impairs our sleep, and compromises our health. Our state of mind is one of survival. In survival mind, everyone and everything that thwarts our forward progress is an obstacle at best and a threat at worst. Look out into our world and it is not difficult to see the consequences of this collective “game” we play.
To choose another way is to go against the grain of our society. To choose another way is to stop creating an identity built on stress and busyness. To choose another way is to be willing to say no to a dehumanizing pace and set of expectations. It is to opt out. It is to agree and say to yourself regularly, “Life is not an emergency.“