Slowing down for the new year

I like the quiet slow week that eases me from Christmas into New Year’s.

I spent a day and a half in Sebastopol, one of my favorite places. It’s an environment conducive to slowing down—to the degree that I found myself doing things like setting my wallet on the bakery counter and then wandering away. (The wallet stayed where I left it. Good wallet! Good people!)  I strolled the Zen garden at Osmosis. I went to bed early.

I’d brought along the book Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest. It’s a meditation on the danger of focusing on accomplishment at the expense of dormancy, and full of musings on the delights of rest. I opened it to the chapter “Selling Unhappiness,” which seems well-timed for the end of the Christmas shopping season, and for setting intentions in the New Year.

Author Wayne Muller talks about the illusion of Sabbath time that’s portrayed in innumerable ads—of carefree, attractive people at leisure, relaxed and happy. We long to be like those fictional people, and we imagine that if we buy what the ads are selling, we can have a bit of their lives. Except, writes Muller:

“While they are promising happiness, they are really selling dissatisfaction. Our entire economy is predicated upon dissatisfaction. If we are satisfied, we do not need more than we already have…

“Instead of buying the new coffee maker, make coffee in the old one and sit with your spouse on the couch, hang out—do what they do in the picture without paying for it. Just stop. That is, after all, what they are selling in the picture: people who have stopped. You cannot buy stopped. You simply have to stop.”

Stopping is easier during this quiet week; it’s easier when I’m away from my usual routine. I want to build more rest into my life. I’m starting with turning off my computer in the evenings. Maybe I’ll add naps in the afternoon. Where will you pause today?

Have a delightful new year.


  1. Quotesqueen says:

    Love this, and appreciate the book reference–am checking that one out!
    (I write a lot about this topic in my blog at–in the past year’s posts, see In Praise of Slowness, May 4, Moodling Day, August 2, and The Myth of Multitasking, October 25.)

  2. Thanks! I needed to hear this today. My holiday goal was to slow down and I think it may be a great goal for the new year as well.

    Happy New Year’s!

  3. Ah, Janet. I breathed a deep sigh of relief just reading this post. Thanks for talking about it–this is a subject I’m deeply interested in, and a direction I intend to take my own blog this year.

    “Do what they do in the picture without paying for it. Just stop….You cannot buy stopped. You simply have to stop.””

    Yes. And every reminder about this is important, I think, because it runs so counter to the messages we’re constantly fed.

    Good for you for taking the time to stop for a week, and for picking such a lovely place to do it. (The wallet! Yikes! And yes, good people!)

    Funny how my urge to acquire so often seems to center around books. I think you’ve just added another to my huge “to read” list! ;o)

  4. Char Brooks says:

    I loved this quote ” you cannot buy stopped.”

    Stopping for me – like many people – is a work in progress. I try and get off the computer – and some other form of connecting to someone else beckons me to just look at one more thing.

    I’m working with it. I notice sometimes I put just as much pressure on myself to stop as I do to move faster. Interesting. . . . just works in reverse.

    That’s an amazing perspective to take into the New Year. Happy Healthy New Year to you!!

  5. Janet Bailey says:

    @Char – “Just one more thing”—ah, how familiar the Siren’s call! Great to hear how you’re working with it.

    @Michelle – Not to add to your info overload ;), but Sabbath is definitely worth the read.

    @Sharon, @Quotesqueen – Hooray for moodling, and for slowing down by any name!

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