I have issues with doing things slowly and it is a problem. I’m trying to remember if I’ve always been this way. Since highschool, I’ve been juggling numerous responsibilities simultaneously. Like academics plus extra-curricular stuff plus a job (sometimes more than one) plus a social life, and on and on. Then I continued this pace throughout college, grad school and then had three kids, so. I am hard pressed to find a time in my life when I wasn’t required to go mach 2 with my hair on fire, so doing anything slowly simply wasn’t an option. I tend to think, speak, and process information quickly and struggle with patience when interacting with someone moving to a slower tempo. I’ve always been the hare, regarding the languid tortoise with no small amount of disdain. I know the end of the story but could never quite respect the sluggish, sloth-like movement of the tortoise. I am an aggressive driver (some might say “road bully”) and was going to devote an episode (and still may) to my struggles on roadways but I have come to understand that driving is just one example of how fast I think I need to go and how aggravated I can become when hindered from doing so. Now that all my kids have launched and I don’t have to keep up my large-squared, wall-mounted, color-coded calendar, I’ve begun to question this lingering need to push, push, push.
I can remember having this seeming existential struggle in highschool/college where I was noticing the same patterns in my life, the same routines, and wondering why I was doing all that stuff over and over. What was the point? Where was it all going? I distinctly remember sitting in church, bulletin in hand, following the agenda (pray, sing hymn, sit down and listen, stand and sing, pray, recite some creed, etc). Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. I know there is a reason for agendas; otherwise, how would you organize large groups of people? But this particular Sunday, I was over it. I just couldn’t see the point. And this frustration began to extend to other areas of my life. It went something like this: “I hurry to shower, hurry to dress, hurry to class, hurry to work, hurry to graduate, hurry to my job, get married, have kids, raise kids, then what? Why does any of this matter? Where is any of this going?”
I realize I have had a pattern of pushing on to the “next thing” for decades. I don’t want to be on the road for longer than I have to because I’d rather be spending my (apparently quickly evaporating) time doing something more enjoyable. Or not enjoyable. Just the next thing. This is a struggle because when I realized that I wasn’t enjoying much anymore, that I was pushing on to the next thing but the next thing wasn’t really worth pushing for…then where did that leave me?
I cycle on a trail in my town and I recently was made aware that I was cycling like I drive. Go, go, go. Get the ride done so I can move on to the next thing. What the hell was I doing? I was pushing so hard and fast that I wasn’t even really enjoying myself, so what was the point? So I decided to slow down. I was going just fast enough to not fall over. This was quite a struggle for me but I decided to view it like an experiment. And I learned there was a journey – not just a destination. That the journey itself can provide enjoyment, peace, contentment, regardless of what lies at the end. And especially regardless of what lies at the next point. I’ve discovered wine helps my brain to relax back in the Adirondack chair but I’d rather have some other more organic methods as well. It’s rather liberating to say, “I don’t care what the next thing is….it may never happen anyway.” I’m thinking my life may be much more enjoyable if I can just let go, slow down, and appreciate the journey. Sounds rather easy but not for someone like me. It’s like asking Usain Bolt to walk a 5K.