Hurry Up and Slow Down (aka: The Fast-Paced Life)

Speed is my superpower.

Speed is my superpower

I run fast. I read fast. Learn fast. Drive fast. Sometimes, it seems that I have lived all my life at a faster-than-normal pace. I rushed through school — graduated at sixteen, then had a bachelor’s degree by age twenty. Then zoom! I got married a year later. And zoom! Bought a home by age 23 and had a baby before the year the over. Swish!

Sometimes, fast can be good. I get my work done quickly, then have plenty of time to fill with things from my ginormous list of hobbies and things to do. I get taxes done the day I receive my W2 in the mail each January. I’m often among the first in line to snag the best camping spot reservations months in advance. When one of my kids tells me at the last second (as usual) that he needs to costume for his big speech tomorrow at school, or she needs a few dozen baked goodies for a bake sale the next morning, I can often whip something together in no time, right in between arriving home from the work and heading out to the gym for my daily workout. Zip! Zoom! Swish!

Fast train

But as useful as speed can be, it is not always a good thing. Sometimes, slower is better.

I run quickly, but also quickly run out of steam. So I’m learning to set a slower pace, and run for greater distances.

I read fast. But when I slow down, I find that I can truly savor a book, and suck the marrow out of every paragraph. The best stories stick with you longer that way.

I learn fast. But I’m more likely to retain that which I’ve studied slower, more in depth.

I drive fast. But driving slowly means enjoying the journey more, taking in the scenery, singing along with the radio. Also, driving fast once earned me a very expensive traffic ticket. Oopsie.

fast driving audi

Marrying fast led to a divorce 17 years later. Working fast sometimes leads to careless mistakes. Zipping though list after list of Way Too Many Things to Do leads to stress, fatigue, burnout. Like a bright meteor, shining bright as it flashes across the sky, but disintegrating in the atmosphere.

Living fast isn’t all bad. It can help us to stay on top of things, to keep our responsibilities from piling up, and to fill our short lives with as much life as possible. But we must also remember that, to live our best lives, we require balance. And balance means to learn when it’s better to ease up on the reins, sit back in our seats, and enjoy the moment. We only get this moment once. Why rush it?

Tortoise vs Hare

 

 

An Extraordinary Moment on an Ordinary Day

ticket to the movies

Something extraordinary happened to me today. At least, it seemed extraordinary to me. You see, I was, until that moment, having an ordinary Sunday. Maybe slightly worse than ordinary, because I had a flat tire. While flat tires may not be a big deal to many people, to me it was, because I am a single mom, struggling to make ends meet. Every penny counts. So I somehow managed to scrape together enough money to go and buy a used tire (and have it installed, as I honestly have no clue how to change a flat tire by myself). When the job was done, I had $10 left in my wallet. Just enough to treat myself to a movie – if I went to a matinee showing, and if I did not buy any popcorn (a difficult decision, because popcorn is my favorite food in the whole world).

And so I took myself out to see a movie I had been looking forward to for weeks: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I asked for my ticket, and was just about to hand the cashier my last few dollars, when a stranger intervened. “I want to pay for her ticket,” the stranger told the woman in the box office. Then he turned to me. “Please. I feel very moved to buy your ticket. Please let me.”

I was speechless. No one had ever offered such a thing before. My mind raced, immediately jumping to conclusions. Did I look poor, with my disheveled hair, faded jeans, and tie-dye canvas bag slung over my shoulder? Was it something in my appearance – perhaps an unconscious sad expression, or the way I was walking, with arms wrapped around my body, perhaps as a shield against the cold or to protect myself from people that may harm me? Was he flirting?

“Don’t worry – I’m gay,” the stranger answered my unspoken question. “So I’m totally not trying to hit on you. I just want to buy your ticket. Maybe it is God or something.”

And so, I stepped back, and let a perfect stranger – a kind, mysterious, and loving stranger, pay for my movie ticket. And I thanked him, with tears that were already beginning to overflow with tears. Because sometimes, people can do beautiful things for no other reason than to be kind. And without knowing who I was, or even that it was a challenge for me to splurge and go see a movie this afternoon, this strange man paid my way, as a random act of kindness. And so, with tears still splashing down my cheeks and blurring my vision, I went to enjoy what turned out to be an excellent movie – and I was even able to buy a popcorn, after all.