I used to pride myself on how much I could get done in a day. I was a “fast person”. I’d push through the discomfort of being cold or hungry in order to get somewhere on time. I’d do three things at once. I was never “idle”.
I’d get everything done and I remember feeling proud when an employer once said, “You’re unbelievably efficient. I can’t believe how quickly you get things done!”
The flip side though, was that I was always a bit cold. A bit hungry, and a bit physically uncomfortable. I always felt rushed, that my days weren’t long enough and that I was forever squeezing things in. My friends felt it too, I know. They felt squeezed in. That maybe they were sitting at the edge of my very full plate, and could slip right off the edge while I wasn’t looking. Sometimes they even told me so.
But I was proud of how I operated and felt frustrated when others moved more slowly than I did. I was driven by the belief that life is short and precious, and that I had to make every moment count.
Then I got tired I guess. Or I had a little surgery. Or I just stopped to really look at a snowflake on my finger as it melted.
Whatever it was, I slowed down long enough to see the value in it.
I was shocked to notice that when I crammed less into my day, time stretched and felt more spacious. It worked in the exact opposite way I always thought it did. By doing less, suddenly, I had more. Each moment felt more precious, because I was able to really be in it. Rather than rushing on to the next thing, I somehow did a bit less and it all meant a bit more.
A partner helped me slow even further. To incorporate ritual. To take one moment longer before leaping out of bed in the morning. To start each day with hot lemon water. He even said once, “You know, if you just do what you need to do, you’ll get places at exactly the right time.” And do you know what? He was right and it is changing my life.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still zoom around, and sometimes so fast that I bowl things (and people) over in the process. The powerful musical duo Rising Appalachia sing and remind me, “wise men say that rushing is violence”. I never would have understood that a few years ago. Now though, it resonates on a deep level and reminds me that doing just a bit less is a magic trick that can stretch time.
I now see myself as a “recovering fast person”. When I start to move really fast or cram things in, I see it as a cue to breathe. To remember that I am a human being, not a human doing. To take better care of myself, and to sit with a snowflake as it melts on my finger.