Slowing down, speeding up. 🐇
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” —Ray Bradbury
I’m living a double life
Ever since a stack of boxes arrived on my porch last weekend, full of copies of a book that I wrote with Koda’s sweet face on the cover, I have been running about like a squirrel collecting acorns. I’ve gathered bubble mailers and shipping labels. I’ve been practicing my signature. These books are going to fly out of my house on their way to yours, propelled by my personal tornado of activity. Getting this book ready for prime time has been a brand new set of activities stacked on top of an already full life of working full-time, playing house, traveling, and going to barn yoga.
The trappings of entrepreneurship are scattered throughout my home, and I love it because I love errands. I get excited about lists and tasks and getting things done. I love crashing into my couch at the end of a too-busy day, overtaken by the sweet exhaustion of productivity.
I feel lucky to have endless energy for doing the things that I love, but I am looking side-eyed at my tendency to lean so hard into doing. The book, after all, is about being. It’s about confronting distractions and delusions and making peace with the reality of where you are at any given moment. It encourages coming home to yourself, and it’s very much about the perils of trying to do and be too much all at once.
This busy phase of being a writer appeals to the part of me that just wants to go, go, go, and that’s not the part that wrote the book. The busy part collected the experiences, but it didn’t process their meaning. It compelled me around the world in a search for home, but it’s not what finally let home find me right where I was. This whole process was an alchemy of movement and stillness and going and stopping and reconciling all of these parts into their natural cohesion. I learned how they can coexist the way fall and spring coexist over the course of a year, just as a person can be both a yogi and a carnivore, an artist and an executive.
Busy and still: the alchemy
When I stop moving, I have to hear myself. Running offers a respite from confrontation with my inner dialogue, which, behind a bulletin board plastered in post-it note reminders, wonders how my grief process is going and how I’m really feeling about spilling my guts to the world in such a tangible and visible way. Stopping to listen isn’t always enjoyable. It can feel like a drag and an impediment to the bubbly fun of getting stuff done!
I have noticed how the elation of busyness emerges from running on fumes and evading the meaningful reflection that comes with stillness. This book came from being forced to stop. I was locked down. I was taking stock of my life in transition. I had little better to do than re-contextualize, take lots of walks, and play Settlers of Catan with my roommates. Slowly, that deliberate reflection produced a bed of tinder where a creative spark could catch fire. Ponderously, a piece of work was birthed that I am proud of, and I got a glimpse of the gift of slowness. Good things could take time, after all.
Productivity is perhaps just the latest in a long list of insidious vices (you can hear about them all on my Hearts Unleashed podcast episode with Abigail). This one is harder to suss out because productivity is a habit that society loves to praise. We like to brag about being busy as if it’s the same thing as being important, or happy.
The hobby that lets me have it all
Once the book was written, I started reading again. I devoured books, one after the other, fiction and nonfiction. Reading felt like doing, even though I was just sitting in my living room. I rediscovered how an author could plant seeds in my brain that I could water with my imagination until something sprouted. And some of those sprouts would take root and live there forever (like the images of smoke-covered firemen walking among doomed crowds of ship passengers in Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, or the rising waters in Ron Rash’s short story The Flood), while others kind of fizzled out, forgotten immediately after finishing the final page.
HALF WILD is 230 pages of creative nonfiction, crafted lovingly with the intention of infusing everyday experiences with the magic of meaning. It’s an adventure that you can take wherever you are, without leaving your comfiest chair. I pray it offers the opportunity to slow down and settle into the story and yourself. Not only because we ought to slow down because we’re operating with a lower capacity for stimulation these days, but because it actually feels good when we let it.
Oh, did I bury the lede?
Thank you for slowing down with me today. Very soon, it will be time to go, go, go! The book will be available on Amazon on MONDAY, JUNE 13. 🥳
I will send out detailed instructions on how to find it then. I know you all know how Amazon works and you don’t need instructions, but I’m going to ask you to search for me there (“HALF WILD whitney durmick”) so we can get a little algorithm magic going.
If enough of us show up to buy the book, I’ll hit best-seller status for my category, which will be cool.
Read the first two chapters here.