By Marilyn L. Pinsky
When turning on the heating mask I recently used on my eyes, instead of turning it to low or medium, I automatically turned it to high, which led in 30 seconds to burning eyelids.
It occurred to me that I live life with things turned to high. I like my food hot and spicy, I automatically turn the stove burners to high (as you might remember from my “How to Clean Burned Pans” article) and I always put the hair dryer on the hot setting, which probably explains my split ends, accompanied by a slight smell of burning hair.
I think there is a connection between doing things fast and having the attention span of a gnat. It probably also correlates, for better or worse, with things like taking chances and making quick decisions.
Whenever I would leave to go out of town for meetings, my husband, Philip, would say, “keep your wits about you.” I was never sure exactly what he meant but it did serve to make me more thoughtful. After a few mishaps, I started to write myself notes of where in the parking garage I left the car, and where in my pocketbook, or suitcase, I put the car keys. The official definition of “keep your wits about you” is, “to remain calm and rational.” I can see now that he was dealing with someone who did things so fast that sometimes I needed to be told “to slow it down,” to at least fake being calm and rational.
As I’ve gotten older I have continued to take Philip’s advice to “keep my wits about me,” by focusing on being more intentional in my movements. For instance, I walk looking down at the sidewalk so as not to trip, I don’t drive as fast as I used to, especially at night, and I check air and train schedules 10 times to make sure I have the times and departure gates right.
Recently, just in case I needed to be reminded to focus, my mind and my body chose to disconnect for a moment. My mind was thinking about something I needed to do two days away and my body was responding to the gym instructor to move from one position to another. My body ended up like a pretzel and my ankle was the piece on the bottom. The result was a badly bruised ankle and a few days of hobbling around, but it could have been worse and it was an important reminder to slow down and stay focused on one thing at a time.
So back to being a hot, medium or low person. I’m thinking maybe I should learn to become a “medium-high person.” I figure I can’t immediately go to a medium, but a medium-high seems doable.
Would it result in less burnt pans, or eyelids? Or would I start to obsess over minor decisions — like saving what amounts to two bites of food from last night’s dinner versus throwing out perfectly good food? Or how many carbohydrates are in a martini vs. red wine? Oh right, I do that now anyway.
I have to start observing some low and medium people to see how they operate. Are they more or less emotional than I am in their decision making? Do they ever wonder how that piece of chocolate with the truffle center happened to end up in their mouths without their even realizing it? Do they give more thought to absolutely everything in their lives and therefore make better decisions on what to cook for dinner so everything is ready at the right time? Are they the ones in the grocery store tasting a grape before buying the whole bag? Do they ever order the wrong size toothbrush head replacement for their electric toothbrush? (Don’t ask, but I’ll tell you this, you can’t send it back once you’ve opened the package.)
As I’m writing this during the COVID-19 scare, the decision to tone it down has become a necessity. I have had to force myself to become slower and more thoughtful in doing everyday things, like not automatically shaking hands and being careful to wash my hands after touching doorknobs. Will this new medium-high me carry through beyond this period?