"Patience and time do more than strength or passion." Jean de La Fontaine
We spend so much of our lives now rushing. We are in a constant state of go, of purpose, and doing. We are always on the way to somewhere or doing something. We speed and hurry like it's the only pace we can go. We move not with intentionality but with impatience. We move to move. We do to do. We go just to go. But why, and not the existential question of why do the things we do, but why do we do them the way that we do. Why have we become so insatiable? Where is the contentment? Why can't we be okay with what we have? Why is everything so fast? The way we move, communicate, commune - all of it, a blur of indistinct checkable items. We're short with others, rude, and inconsiderate. We lose the humanity of ourselves and one another in the fervor. Stop. Breathe. Be. Do it again. And again. One more time for good measure. Why are we looking for shortcuts, for outs, for efficiency? They all have their place, but too much can be just as toxic to our grounding as not enough. Not everything has to be simple. Complicated or complex just means a more robust opportunity to slow it down, to do what you need as you need. Sometimes not having anywhere to go, or not beckoned to move on to something else can give us perspective on how lost we have become in our quest to master time. There's something indescribable about being in a place or with people, and that is the entire reason you're there. You don't have somewhere else to be, and you don't have to be someone else. You're there to be there, learn, teach, and grow.
We have this socially constructed and self-perpetuated false sense of urgency, of immediacy, of absolutism. Everything must be instantaneous, click to play, order ahead, etc. We have replaced waiting with perpetual gratification, and it has made us ungrateful for the process, the people, and the product. Time is a valuable commodity but expediting our entire lives and having nothing to show for it seems antithetical. Time is meant to be spent not just conserved. Things are worth spending time on. People are worth spending time on. Life is worth spending time on. We have to be selective in who or what we spend our time on, but not choosing anything or anyone at all defeats the purpose of having the choice to begin with. Time has to be used or else it is lost. It has to be given, and given freely, lest it become a burden. We are always betwixt and between there's too much on our hands, and there's not enough time in the day. Spending our time wisely means savoring every moment as it happens, and for what it is.
When we slow things down there's more emotion attached to it. Everything from tracing the outlines of the lines etched in your palms, to cooking a full blown meal, or watching the clouds go by, becomes more sensual, livelier ... real. It's the difference between getting a text message versus a hand written letter, a warm embrace where you cheeks touch versus a fleeting high five, or a quick hello compared to a reverencing conversation that extends into the wee hours of the morning. Slowing things down means making time for the things and the people that matter to us. It's shifting priorities to give people our time, and for us to spend that time doing nothing but being there. It's distraction-free, full-fledged, and dynamically engaged. It's feeling everything there is to feel, taking it all in, and being thankful for the experience is how it is. People who plant their feet when they ask you how you're doing, drop what they're doing to show up for you, and ask follow up questions - those are people who are choosing to slow things down. People who make you forget that anything or anyone else exists. People where time seems to be suspended or you have all the time in the world. People who look at you, stay with you, exist with you - and that's it. People who are fully attentive. There's a profound intimacy there when your sole focus is another person and the ongoing conversation between you. It's only when we invest our time, energy, effort, etc. into other people where we can those earnest conversations that stay with us for a lifetime. It's when we go slow that we can appreciate the beautiful convoluted world, and its inhabitants around us. X
Slowing it down:
Choose something you want to do slower or slowly, and do it.
- Plan ahead, and leave earlier to arrive without having to rush - enjoy the ride
- Taking the time to do something that requires substantive time - see it through
- Put your phone away, silence it, or better yet turn it off at a designated time or when with other people
- Spending time looking and listening to the world around you in the moments in between instead of using your phone as a buffer.
- Write a letter, cook a meal, deep clean - something that takes time/effort
- Walk slowly, speak softly, and listen to understand - ask more, and listen again