Have you read Still Alice by Lisa Genova? Or, perhaps you have seen the movie. I have read the book but not seen the movie. Anyway…it is a book about a Harvard professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s at 49. Because she is aware of what is happening to her she has the opportunity to stop and reflect on the things she is going to lose as well as on why she didn’t pay enough attention to some of those things prior to her diagnosis.
One of those things was taking time to savor a spring day and enjoy a chocolate peanut butter ice cream cone. For years she had been sitting in her office, doing her research, writing, teaching classes and missing the beauty of a spring day outside her window. It is the stopping to savor, the intentional choice to slow down in her daily busyness and go get an ice cream cone, that strikes a particularly poignant note for her. She muses why she didn’t do this more? Why did it take a catastrophic diagnosis for her to stop rushing around? What would stopping more frequently have added to her life rather than assuming it would distract or set her back?
All excellent questions to be sure. The other good question here is why do we so often learn this too late in life?
Taking time for yourself is becoming more and more popular as a topic of discussion in magazines, scientific studies and between friends than it was ten years ago. The evidence is mounting that in order to stay healthy, sane and emotionally connected to others regular time to yourself to decompress is necessary.
As the stressors, craziness and discord in the world increase exponentially, or so it seems, the importance of stepping back, being quiet and savoring a chocolate peanut butter ice cream cone or a nap or a massage or a cup of coffee or a walk in the woods increases exponentially – or so it seems to me.