I crashed. I couldn’t keep up. I was giving it all I had, but it wasn’t enough.
Just six months after our move to Silicon Valley, I had allowed my schedule to get out of hand. I was struggling to maintain commitments and relationships and life in general.
I hadn’t been taking care of my own soul, and it began to show. When we live a cluttered and complicated life instead of a simplified life, it has an adverse impact on the people closest to us. Because I wasn’t taking care of me, I was not in a position to take care of the people God put in front of me.
So I got away for some solitude. I went camping for 3 days near Capitola. A tent, God, and my journal. I needed to hear the rhythm of God’s heartbeat in order to recalibrate my soul to pulse in time with His.
Where I setup camp lay just a few yards away from the beach. I could hear the waves each night as I dozed off. I went several times each day down to the beach, sometimes to go for a walk, and other times to be still, pray, journal and reflect. In one of my more inspired moments, this was some of what I wrote…
Mountains stretch out into the Pacific on both my right and my left. From where I’m seated they appear parallel to one another, like prongs of a tuning fork. God strikes the fork, allowing me to see waves of sound rippling to the shore, vibrating a holy note in perfect pitch with their Creator’s voice.
O, these waves…
I recall the Gulf waters in Florida: clearer, bluer, and certainly calmer. Those waters spoke serenely. Here on the West Coast, though, the ocean is marked by a decided wildness, the wildness of risk and challenge. Florida is where you go for lazy paddle boarding among manatees. But if you are willing to get knocked over, shoved headfirst by a wave over sharp, crustacean-covered rocks…then brave the waters here in California. They don’t call them breakers for nothing.
Florida has a reputation for being the place where people go to settle, much like the lazy waves against her soft shores.
And then there’s our city in California, with the same aggressive attitude as her waves…a place where people lean forward onto the balls of their feet, leaning headfirst into fresh challenges, weathering strong headwinds. The waves are louder, pound-ier here, and it seems that a successful career requires similar, raucous qualities. This is not where you go to celebrate having accomplished it all; this is where you had better wake up each day ready to attack what still needs to get done, ready to work to make a better life, jaw clenched as you determine to reshape the world. Silicon Valley is where stirring it up is celebrated more than letting the sediment of normal lie quietly, undisturbed at the bottom of the jar. Shake things up, turn the world upside down, rattle the tiny ball in the can of spray paint until you can’t hear it clink any more. Then grab another fresh can of spray paint. Never stop shaking things up, never stop spraying the world a new color.
For all a body can accomplish, there must come a time for the soul to catch up. The soul is not made to sprint. No, the soul dances. I’ve got to slow down long enough to hear the music, allowing the soul to slowly saunter across the dance floor.
So in my first 6 months in California I observed that we are great doers, but deaf dancers. We should not hold the drumsticks; we are not supposed to set the tempo. God knew we’d speed up, outpacing our souls.
These waves with their heavy bass thuds will never stop punching the West Coast beaches. But I can. I can pause. I can pause and reflect on life, without punching to get ahead, without feeling responsible to generate and push the next great wave. God alone pushes these waves that draw near and retreat, draw near and then retreat.
As I slowdown and recharge, I hope to hear the music again. God’s tuning fork sounds good, right, pitch perfect. It makes me want to dance again.