Not long ago I had the privilege of watching someone who seemed to have really figured out how to slow life down.
I had passed the kids to my husband for the day and headed to the oceanside community of Pacific Grove, California, to write and enjoy some time to myself. (Because, introvert.)
I was scanning titles in a book & coffee shop when he came in. It was hard to miss his scruffy, graying facial hair, frayed shorts, and nearly disintegrated flip flops—and even harder still to miss the bright red and green, watermelon-patterned beanie on his head.
I love to people watch, and the cafe area was full of interesting people. But this was the kind of guy your eye can’t help but follow. He made an order and chatted with the barista, raving over her nail polish choice like they were longtime friends.
I tucked myself into an arm chair and kept an eye on him from over the top of a book I pretended to read.
I was intrigued—maybe a little enamored—with this 50-year-old, self-proclaimed beach bum in the watermelon beanie.
On his way out, he stepped fully behind the counter (I don’t think traditional boundaries get to him much) to say goodbye to the staff.
His parting words?
“Life is too short to be normal! So I’m gonna keep being nice, I’m gonna keep noticing nail polish, and I’m gonna keep wearing my watermelon hat!”
I’m not exaggerating when I say he tipped his beanie as if it were a top hat, gave a gentle bow, and walked out into the fresh seaside air, leaving the bell on the door jingling softly in his wake.
What Would a Slow Life Feel Like?
Isn’t it fascinating to contrast what his life might be like with what our lives are like?
I like to play out his story in my mind, imagining him spending most of his days with sand in his toes… where I spend too many of my days with tired feet from all the hustling.
Maybe he treats everyone he meets with that much kindness and enthusiasm, where I tend to offer a quick hello and carry on with my own busy thoughts.
Maybe he notices things like purple nail polish where I too often rush past the details that really make life worth seeing.
Later on as I drove home, I kept thinking—Not today, my beanie-wearing friend. Not today.
Today I’ll Press Pause.
Today I’ll notice the way the sun casts a golden glow on my children when I call them in from playing outside.
Today I’ll pick up the book I keep meaning to read.
Today I’ll get my daughter dressed in her pajamas (and squeeze that cute belly of hers), instead of letting her do it herself.
Today I’ll eat a meal outside.
Today I’ll set down my worries for a while. (After all, they’ll still be there later.)
Today I’ll spend an extra minute doing my children’s hair, just so I can watch their growing faces through the mirror.
Today I’ll wave another car forward when we meet at a four-way stop.
Today I’ll double the amount of eye contact I share with my family and friends.
Today I’ll press pause.
Here’s to fewer distractions, slower living, a wild beanie every now and then—and more awareness of the moments that make us think THIS is what it’s all about.
I’d love to hear—When was a recent time that you managed to press pause and really be right there for a while?
Maybe it was last night when you breathed in the drop off essential oil you put on your pillow… Or maybe it was last week when you left your phone in your car while you hiked with the kids… Whenever it was, let’s hear it!
PS. If this post was about recognizing that you need to hit pause, this one is about how to do it: 5 Ways to Press the Pause Button (the formula I swear by).
LOVE this post Erica. I am with you every step of the way…slowing down and pausing today..and every chance I create. Now, where can I get myself one of those wonderful watermelon beanies? xx
beautiful. I frequently use the “press pause” note with my family. On a side note the idea of a book café sounds amazing. I want to go!
Beautiful, Joanna. Your family’s lucky to have you helping them see the value of pressing pause. <3 And yes! I want to go back to that book & coffee shop. It was a little slice of heaven.
Love your eye opening story. I am an oncology nurse,my husband a retired hospice chaplain now volunteer chaplain at our cancer center. Time is a precious gift. Easy to get lost in caring for others…so now I press pause often. Thank u for sharing your aha moment.
Wow, what emotional and meaningful work you both do. Thank you so much for reading, Linda, and best wishes to you and your husband!
I just had this thought yesterday, actually. I have two boys, ages 3 and 1. When I get home, I give my kids a snack and start making supper (in between breaking my kids up over a fight over a toy). I feed them, play a little, get them bathed, pjs on, and my 1 year old in bed. My 3 year old has a speech delay, so we usually do a fun activity for him and then start the process for going to bed. This all happens in a matter of 2-3 hours. Yesterday we grabbed quick food and just played. My 3 year old and I read a bunch of books together after my little one went to bed, and had great one-on-one time with him. Life is so busy to be caught up in all the things we “should” be doing. It is hard to find the balance of pressing pause, and still needed to take care of our responsibilities. But the little reminder of the “pause” button is important.
Beautiful, Corrissa! Your comment inspired me to look for more moments when I can be playful and just enjoy my kids. (Bedtime, in particular, is hard for me! My energy flatlines around then… 😉 ) This is what I love so much about the word “pause.” It’s not a full stop, just a pause. A temporary time out that still allows us to get stuff done. 🙂 Best wishes, girl!
I’ve been pressing pause a lot lately. More out of necessity (anxiety) than because I know it is good and healthy (though this is true and I do aim for a slower life). I have competing desires: write and even slowly grow a meaningful PT business, raise and healthy, connected family and take good care of myself- mind, body and spirit. There is no perfect forumla to follow so I am trying things, letting go, forgetting my value does not lie in my performance, pressing pause over again.
Well said, Krista. I’ve been thinking of you so much since I read your recent post. I can so relate to what you said about being frustrated that you can’t just “fix yourself.” As a fellow someone who feels deeply, I GET that. Thinking of you—you’ll be in my prayers!
Today I press pause…..as a migraine suffer I find that the day after the pain is gone is a great time to pause, eat something that makes you happy, diffuse some happy oils and rest….peacefully. That’s what I did today.
Good for you, Renee. It seems so wise to let your body recover like that before jumping back into life. Wishing you a migraine-free near future!
This hits home so much with me! Ever since my daughter was born I’ve hit pause and tried to take in every single detail I can from clothing to the music playing to the road we’re driving on to the smells in the air! I do it as if I were freezing a memory in my mind to pull up in ten or twenty years. Sometimes I even cry when I’m freezing time if you will because I know it’s not forever…
I lived the first 30 years of my life without a cell phone. Gasp! My phone does not come with me into restaurants, or on walks with me, or to any other events. I noticed that I rarely look at any of the 3000 photos I take with my cell. I fully experience things in the moment, now. I give my full attention to the person I am with. So much more rewarding.
Wow, that’s inspiring, Linda! Makes me think hard about my level of attachment to be digitally connected. Thanks for adding that to the discussion!
Sometimes I feel like we make too many plans or take on too much in our lives. I don’t want to brag, but I just don’t have that much on my plate. I’m not sure what I’ve done differently than everyone else, maybe just not as ambitious. I wish people would understand that their busy level is on their control.
I love this, my baby is turning one in a few weeks and I’m left wondering where the time went. I’ve spent the last couple nights giving extra snuggles and inhaling the baby scent that won’t be here much longer.