Allowing for a little slack is how the hammock does its job

A few days ago I was thinking about a particular situation in my life. Specifically, how it wasn’t progressing as quickly as I wanted. My thoughts grew into an internal story that included some what ifs, yeah buts, and a whole bunch of shoulds. Pretty soon I had pretty much bummed myself out.

Then I remembered the hammock.

One of my favorite places on the island is a shady spot just off the beach. There’s a hammock hanging between two palm trees and it’s the perfect spot to take a break from whatever’s bugging you. Sounds good, I thought, let’s go.

I closed my eyes and imagined climbing into the mesh of silky-smooth, woven ropes. They stretched and molded around me, a perfect design of free-form support. I relaxed in the soothing sway of the gentle ocean breeze. Ahhh . . . this is perfect – just where I should be right now.

I thought about how easy it is to get dissatisfied with life. How we so often think we should be more, better, different. These kind of thoughts usually lead to beating ourselves up about how we’re not moving fast enough, not getting enough done, not succeeding in the way we should.

Then, again, I remembered the hammock.

A hammock does its job by providing slack. When you lay down, the ropes stretch and give. Instead of rigidly sticking to a certain shape, it molds to whoever is using it. Rather than conform to a certain idea of what it should be, it adjusts to what is needed right now. Permitting some slack allows the hammock to do what it is meant to do.

Maybe we can cut ourselves some slack too. Constantly striving for more is hard. Not only does it wear us out, but we feel like we’re somehow dropping the ball, not doing enough. That creates tension, stress, dissatisfaction. And do we really know what should be happening anyway? Do we always know what’s best for us? Instead of agonizing over how things aren’t they way they should be and trying harder, maybe we accept that we’re doing the best we can – and that’s enough. In fact, we may be just where we should be right now.

As I lay in the shade of the palm grove, my worries faded into tropical tranquility. The next time I get myself worked up about how I’m not doing enough, I’ll try to remember the hammock . . . and cut myself some slack.


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