text walk slowly, go farther, overlaying an image of a woman walking a red rock labyrinth.Sometimes the answer to getting somewhere is to do it slowly, and rest along the way. I’ve heard different versions of “Walk slowly, go farther” over the years, attributed to different people, most often to Confucius. However there is also the Aesop’s Fables version, in the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race (that phrase used to really irritate me as a kid).

I’ve always wanted to do everything, and do it fast.
I started walking at 9 months old.
When I was 4 years old, I lost my first tooth.
I couldn’t wait to be all 10 fingers old.
In middle school, I decided I was going to read ALL the classic literature (and I made a pretty big dent in the list).
In high school, I took AP classes. Tutored elementary kids. Joined the Spanish Club. Key Club. National Honor Society…

In college, I tried to do everything too. Studying to get in to nursing school, taking ballroom dance classes, attending extracurricular activities, juggling a part time job and dating. I was burning the candle at both ends, as my dad would say. I burnt out and got really sick. So sick that I could hardly drag myself out of bed to get to class and my shifts at work. That earned me my first ever “failing” grade, in Organic Chemistry. I was so sick that it triggered a cycle of chronic pain and fatigue that I still deal with, 20 years later.

My body had been telling me I needed to rest, and I ignored it until it demanded that I rest. Still, I forced myself to continue on. I finished nursing school, working 12 hour clinical shifts, had three babies, continued working part time and took care of my family.

From time to time, my body would shut down and I would miserably watch my children play from the couch, hardly able to move, feeling like I was fighting my way through wet concrete. I received multiple medical diagnoses, none of which offered me much hope, but demanded rest. A sickening anxiety surfaced, which would edge me toward a numb abyss of depression, which I referred to as my “deep dark hole”. I felt stuck because I wanted to do so much, but my body couldn’t perform. There was a grieving process for what I felt I had to give up, but I started learning to learn to treat my body with care and tenderness. I learned that I could still do the things most important to me (but not every whim that popped into my mind) if I would gift myself with adequate physical and mental rest.

This rest does not limit itself to naps or sleeping, or prostrating myself on the sofa. I learned (as the Nap Ministry has often shared on social media), that rest is anything that connects your mind and body.

I still have a long list of projects that I would like to accomplish, yesterday if possible. I want to become an expert in a dozen different subjects. Like so many others, I want to find the answers to all the questions that keep me up at night.

But the answer that keeps coming into my heart, over and over, is to walk for now. Rest, and then get up and walk again. Self compassion has helped me to process so much grief and recognize all the things that walking still allows. I used to think that I could rest when I was dead, but I have learned to treasure rest as a worthy endeavor by itself, and for its own sake.

Do you ever find that you can go farther by walking slowly?