It can feel like the world is going faster than ever. Breaking news alerts. Work that used to end at the office now bleeds over to our time at home. Email. A phone that never stops buzzing. Everything seems more competitive, from college admissions to the real estate market. And now a pandemic, civil unrest, and systems and leaders that seem to be failing us completely.
How much of this is really new and how much of it is an illusion is not really clear, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. We feel overwhelmed. We feel overworked. We feel like we’re losing our grip…and we may well be.
There’s a band called The Head and the Heart, which is an excellent name considering the lyrics to one of their best songs, “Let’s Be Still.” It’s all about using those two things to do something really important:
The world’s just spinning
A little too fast
If things don’t slow down soon
we might not last
So just for the moment, let’s be still
Marcus Aurelius talks about the bustle and the noise of court. Seneca describes a busy, chaotic Rome so vividly it feels almost indistinguishable from any major modern city. Both of them knew what it was like to have the world spinning just a little too fast—and they both wrote repeatedly about taking a moment, here and there, to just be still.
Retreat into yourself, Marcus said. You don’t need to head to the country. You can stop for a few seconds and find peace. Force your mind to concentrate, Seneca said. Stop straying, ignore the noise, and quiet the bedlam within. They knew the power of stillness, and they actively made it a priority each day.
Are you doing the same? Can you take a minute this morning, or whenever you’ve read this and just be still? Count to sixty. Look out the window. Sit down with a journal. Whatever. Just slow down, and slow down soon.
Or else you might not last.