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issue #8 No Time to Rush
The past year has been a difficult one for me.
I have much to be thankful for on a daily basis, but the circumstances I’ve experienced in 2022 and 2023 have definitely challenged me on some deep levels. As many of you know, since 2018, I have mostly lived in Lviv, Ukraine, where my wife is from. When the Russian invasion began, our life there was thrown into chaos. The terror of having to make a decision about whether or not to leave still haunts me from time to time. We managed to escape just hours before the airspace was closed and the land border crossing became choked with hundreds of thousands of fleeing people.
We stayed in England for the next three months. Days were spent surfing and wandering the isolated rocky coastline, but there was a continuous awareness that eventually, we'd be uprooted again. And the rugged beauty and serenity of the landscape stood in sharp contrast to the inner turmoil we felt, knowing that the war was devastating the lives of friends and family in Ukraine. After three months passed we decided that the risk of heading back was manageable, and that returning was the right thing to do.
(Don’t worry, this post isn’t all doom and gloom. Please read until the end!)
Once back in Lviv, we settled in as best we could. Wailing air raid sirens became a part of daily life—to the point that we mostly ignored them— but for the most part, we carried on with our schedule in a normal way. However the war was ever-present, and there was always the possibility that we'd have to leave in a hurry. Even in our treasured historical apartment that we renovated back in 2019, fully settling down was difficult. On top of that, my wife and I were both confronted with the possibility of our careers being upended by changes at National Geographic (where we’ve worked since 2010).
In December, we headed back to California for the holidays and are still here. Just last week, the "atmospheric rivers" that passed over the state hit our area hard, and we were mandatorily evacuated from the charming little cabin we'd been renting. We're still awaiting the OK to go back. Other people were certainly more impacted by these storms than we were, but for us, it was just another feeling of being uprooted.
This morning, while sitting and having my coffee, I was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach (she was recently recommended to me by a great friend) - in addition to being a renown spiritual teacher, she has a enlightening Spotify podcast on mindfulness and meditation. In the talk, she mentioned the phrase "THERE'S NO TIME TO RUSH," which hit hard. As I sipped my coffee, I looked back and realized the last year has flown by in a blur. Caught up in worry and anxiety, I haven't taken nearly enough time to stop and be grateful for all the beautiful aspects of my life. I realized I've let a year of life pass by in a rush. And I don't have time for that! It's not in alignment with how I want to live, and I've always taken a small amount of pride in myself for not getting too carried away by challenges and prioritizing the "mountaintop" perspective.
So for any of my readers who may be going through their own challenges, know you’re not alone. Together we can make an effort to let gratitude and appreciation shape and define our lives. Let's make sure we take time to pause and appreciate the people we love and the moments that nurture us, even during times of hardship.
Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to this newsletter, and also to those who are just checking it out! I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea of “no time to rush.” Feel free to drop them into the comments.
With kindness and appreciation ~ Matthew
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