“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
– Maya Angelou
On Tuesday, I was standing on our sidewalk with the girls getting the mail from our slot.
I heard a fast noise and looked over my shoulder to see a car turn down our one-way street the wrong way (not an uncommon occurrence).
Barely pausing at the stop sign, the car started to cross in front of my neighbor’s walking path.
“Geez,”I could not help myself from reacting out loud.
She waved her hands in front of her body, indicating all smooth and said, “She’s in a hurry. I am not in a hurry.” With that, she went on her way.
I turned my head up. Mmmmm. Those words are meant for me.
Call me crazy, but I think messages are put into the universe meant for us – if we’re listening.
For me, speed bumps force me slow me down (you too?).
I’m set to move. My default mode is pressée. I remind myself to slow down daily. In fact, it’s my morning intention, most mornings.
Just … Slow … Down.
This time, though, I too was not in a hurry. Coming off a weekend in Door County at my parents’ cottage, I was in a slower mode.
I savored the present a lot last weekend – kayaking, making s’mores, being. Most poignantly, when I was outside with my family, soaking in the sunset (see above – so gorgeous!).
The weekend was slow. It was wonderful.
I want to stay this way – at least in my mindset.
Slowing down is not just for me. It’s what I want to root in my children, to model for them about living.
Kids don’t do well with hurry. If you’re looking for immediate resistance, try rushing a child. When I head down that road, my kids get bossy. They bicker. Attitudes pop up. There are tears.
So why hurry?
I get that we have shit to do and places to be, but my aim is to banish the hurry whenever possible. We all have shit to do and places to be, but life will happen. We will get there, hurrying or not. Life is not always going to fold out the way you want it to. Do you really want that much control?
When I feel myself hurrying, I remind myself to slow down. When those I’m five minutes late moments happen upon me, I remind myself to be intentional with my mindset and roll with it. I tell myself: I am a timely person. I strive to meet deadlines. I get it done. It will get done. I remind myself: I will get there when I get there, and I ain’t stressing about it. There’s no use.
I mean, what will happen if we refuse to hurry? What happens if you don’t get there RIGHT NOW?
I realized I’ve been pondering hurrying for going on 20 years, when I came upon an article I wrote for my college newspaper entitled Road Ragers Get Off the Road. Here are pieces of it:
About a week ago, my mind drifted backward to the days of yesteryears – my childhood, tossed in the backseat of a sweltering vehicle. Weekend after weekend, I witnessed cars, racing past our family van on the one lane, no passing roads destined for Door County.
Every time a car would zoom out ahead of my mother, who, trust me, isn’t a naturally slow driver, she cured them and said, “What are you in such a big hurry for?”
At the time, I thought my mother was a bit out there. Like most short-attention spanned children, I was in a mad rush to get out of the scorching car, into the cottage, change into my swimsuit and plummet into the water.
I did, however, get my kicks out of her vulgarities – they signified a nickel for every swear word.
However, last week on the Beltline, I recognized my mother was correct (shh, don’t tell her, she really likes the “I’m the mommy that’s why” take, even when I’m not living the house). I was stuck in bottleneck traffic, 15 minutes late for an appointment, air conditioning broken, and crummy songs on the radio. The irritating noise of car horns rang out densely in the air. Looking around, I noticed a range of faces – some livid, some agonizing, but most put off by the inconvenience.
Despite the trouble, there was no temporary solution – a semi-truck lost its’ bed under the bypass at the Seminole Highway exit and no one was moving for at least 20 minutes – and in that 20 minutes I realized a few things.
Robert M. Pirsig summed it up properly in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He said, “When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. I just want to get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly, with the same attitude I remember was present just before I found that sheared pin. It was that attitude that found it, nothing else.”
We must realize that when people race ahead with only the destination in mind, they are not taking the time to make the most of what they have. They are missing out on the beauty of living – looking around, examining, observing, and exploring things.
So my advice is – slow down. Nothing worth anything is worth rushing into.
And my thought now: Life takes time, and that is beautiful.
So, let’s stop and smell the roses. Whenever we can.
P.S. I want to take a moment to acknowledge Maya Angelou’s life. May she rest peacefully. Her words reached my soul at a turning point in my life – my junior year in France. What’s your favorite Maya Angelou quote?
Ciao for now.