Finding Tempo Giusto


I’m what you would call a typical morning person. My energy peaks before noon. For night-owls, this behavior is a total mystery. I’m equally in awe of those who are able to have intellectual conversations after 9 o’clock pm. I prefer watching the sun rise. Ideas flow easily pre-dawn, and I treasure the spaciousness of uninterrupted time when most people are still sleeping. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a new trend: my body is wanting more rest. The sun is rising later too. At first, I resisted this idea. I’m a morning person after all! I need that time for sipping coffee and puttering to begin my day. I feel rushed without it. When I open my eyes, the message is clear. Go back to sleep. I feel a tension, as I also hear: There’s so much to do! The end of the year is coming!  Holidays are here! You’re wasting time.

The universe delivered an unexpected gift this week in the form of an email from a past workshop participant. Dr. Paul Richards, the Superintendent of the American School of Dubai wrote, “What’s next? We are intrigued by the concept of tempo giusto, that everything has its optimal speed (fast, moderate, or slow). What should be slow about schooling? We believe: thinking, learning, feedback, planning, visioning, reading and writing.” Wow!  I love this idea! Not only is tempo giusto a musical term meaning ‘exact time’ but also an expression that rolls easily off the tongue in Italian. Of course, the Italians have a phrase that defines optimal time. In Italy, most of the country takes a break in the middle of the day to eat and rest. Slowing down is part of the culture. Children return home from school mid-day to have lunch with their families. People pause. A tempo giusto.

Paul’s email had me wondering. Is there a natural rhythm to all things? Are humans the only species that place artificial constraints on time, interrupting a natural flow? Aside from sleeping longer, what is my body telling me about pacing? I know I’d like to pass quickly through pain and anxiety. I’d prefer for my daughter’s temper tantrums to run their course without lingering. On the other hand, could we please slow things down when she is writing a letter to the tooth fairy?

In our dominant culture, I feel a quickening upon us. I expect instant feedback to social media posts. I send and receive emails at all times of day, even on the weekends. I’m actually eating at my desk right now, as I write this.

Certainly, there are things that remind me of my own time if I’m open to seeing them. Geese flying overhead. Reading a poem. Listening to a babbling brook. These are not static acts, they all involve movement and they all have their own pace. Otherwise, the goose would cease to be in formation, the poem wouldn’t be understood, and the river would either overflow or dry up.  

As we approach the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, I’m paying attention to time. I’m sleeping in with a little less guilt, and I’m gaining awareness that while busy-ness has become a badge of honor in our society, I can still look to the goose, the poem, and the brook, for gentle reminders of my own tempo giusto.

Aside from being an early riser,Tara finds joy in being near the ocean, walking in the woods during a snowstorm, and snuggling under the covers while reading books with her daughter, Nadia. She is a Courage & Renewal Facilitator and a Co-Founder of WholeHeart. 

Consider exploring your own inner knowing and timing: January 25-28, 2018 for a Circle of Trust Retreat: Rekindling the Light Within with Tara and Holly.