I used to be pretty deep. Not Ghandi-deep or even C. S. Lewis-deep but able to readily explore the inner depths of my mind and heart. I could even, if I wanted to, think deep thoughts just for fun.
Unfortunately, years of perfecting the ability to multitask has robbed me of that depth. Of course, it all starts with being a mom and learning to talk on the phone and spoon in the baby food and fold the laundry all at once. Then you add a professional life and a church life and the demands of any normal life and I got really, really good at juggling all of it all at once.
It only cost me a few layers of depth.
I think it went away so gradually that I barely noticed it. I started doing more and more of my thinking on the run. I spent less time pondering or reflecting. Reading became a way to gain information or a way to escape but rarely got my full attention. I got really good at being fully present to other people and got tired out by that and so then I learned to space out when I was with myself. I started to cruise in the wake of other people’s learning because it was just so much easier.
Now I’m in a different season of life and I want my old self back. Doing a lot of things at once because there are a lot of things to do has its place. Learning to keep it light after a heavy day of sharing in other people’s deep work has its place. Deep doesn’t have to mean constant intensity. But there are some practices that build depth, that can help us plumb the deep places and I’m ready to re-engage them.
Even in short doses, for example, solitude and silence help us learn to be with God and ourselves and listen to both. Sitting quietly to solve problems without talking about them to everyone who will listen opens us up to our own creative thinking. Asking ourselves what we think about something and then taking the time to really listen to the answer helps a lot. Reading books that are hard to read builds depth if they’re the right books. Asking good questions in conversation and then asking more questions builds relational depth. It’s a fundamental shift from quantity of life to quality. I’m ready to make the shift.