What's the Hurry? Changing the Pace of Your Life
Dashing 'round like a maniac?
Life in these United States can often run at a very high pace. People who live in populated areas are particularly prone to break-neck speeds, as if they aren't allotted the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of the world. It's a puzzler to this author; especially given the old adage "the hurrier I go the behinder I get". Ever hear that one?
It happens that this author lives in a rural setting, where the population is so small it doesn't even qualify as an "incorporated township". At last count, I think there were somewhere around 17,000 people. I realize there are places way smaller, and certainly places way larger, but all in all it seems a goodly number of folks to inhabit such a lovely place. Not too many. Not too few. But even here, there are those people who insist on driving like they're being chased by some horrible ogre, running for their lives every time they turn the ignition on. As there are lots (and lots) of critters in these parts, it makes me want to shoot out their tires as they whizz by, oblivious to any other living beings around them. Road kill is a common sight. So are vultures (literally) who clean up the roads so we don't have to look at the flattened carcasses that met their untimely demise at the hands of such maniacs.
I suppose one of the reasons this kind of mindless, frenzied lifestyle is so irritating is because, once upon a time, I was that way too. Not just in my car. Any kind of movement was made at top speed. Even my speech patterns were speedy. Back when I first left my hometown for places unknown, I was often asked to "repeat and slow down". Folks just couldn't understand what the hell I was saying because the words spewed out faster than a HumVee guzzles gas. And when I moved to the Deep South, well...let's just say most of those folks looked at me as if I were speaking an entirely different language. Which, in some ways, was true. But the real switch happened when I moved to Taos, New Mexico. My whole life changed in a very short time...all for good. It was there I learned what it means to live. And those lessons have stayed with me to this day. Which brings us to the 'reason' for this missive.
Tick, tock, watch that clock...
Taos, New Mexico is known the world round as an art colony. It is a very small place that is, indeed, filled with many artistic types who do things at their own pace and refuse to adhere to social mores. There is also a large Hispanic population, most of whom are first generation Americans. Warm, friendly, hospitable people who will give you the shirt off their back if you need it. And then there are the tourists. Taos quadruples in size during the winter months because of the excellent skiing conditions. In summer, there are also a lot of tourists, but not nearly as many as Snow Time. The locals understand the economics of these 'turistas' and their invasions, but I can tell you first hand, it is an attitude of tolerance more than enjoyment. They don't respect the land. They toss trash out their rented car windows, they hike into the mountains and leave behind their beer cans and assorted other sundries with no regard to the mess they're leaving behind. And...they drive like idiots.
The local inhabitants move at a snail's pace, both on the road and in their everyday activities. If you go to the DMV, you can expect a very long wait, even though there might only be 10 or so people waiting. Same goes at the grocery stores, restaurants, and anywhere else you may go to receive service. Those folks take their sweet time with everything they do. And once you get in their groove, it is as lovely and stress-free a place as you'll ever visit. If, on the other hand, you ignore their promptings and try to rush them along, you're in for some very unpleasant interactions. They just won't tolerate that kind of thing.
It took me about a day and a half to get this. It just so happened I did have to go to the DMV and a friend of mine had warned me ahead of time: "take a book, take a beverage, and prepare to spend the day. Those people will not be rushed." As I sat in the waiting area, watching and listening to the goings-on, I decided it would be fun to just use the time to experience this new lifestyle. Rather than getting all tizzied over the amount of time it took for the clerks to help someone, I chose to just watch and enjoy the interactions. By the time I left (which was only an hour later!), I could feel the change in my whole countenance. Just witnessing the way those folks did things made me breath slower. It was almost a religious experience. Really! Never before had I embraced "slow". And having found this new approach made me reconsider the way I'd lived my life theretofore. Like I said, my whole life changed.
The most obvious down-side of rushing around like a crazy person is the stress factor. It seems that the faster we try to go, the faster our brains must work, which leads to all kinds of chemical reactions on the cells and inner workings of our human physiology. If your heart rate speeds up, so does the stress on your body. Simple fundamentals. The same applies when we slow down. Not only is there an impact on our physiology, but also our emotional and psychological being. Slower is lower (stress). Not rocket science, but certainly not "common sense" either.
Let's put the obvious aside for a moment. Let's forget about the toll on our physiological, emotional and psychological well-being. Because, it seems pretty clear (to me) that most folks don't give a hoot about the tolls. They're just too busy to pay attention. My favorite line is: "I just don't have time for....". Here's a newsflash for you: EVERYBODY GETS THE SAME AMOUNT OF MINUTES EACH AND EVERY DAY. So quit making excuses and get a clue. It's not about not having enough time. It's about not managing the time you do have. And prioritizing. And remembering that some things are just too important to NOT make time for. As the saying goes, "when you're lying on your death bed, you're not going to regret the things you did...but the things you did not do."
If we were to consider, for just a moment or five, how much more joyful our lives could be if we would just slow down and honest-to-Pete smell the roses, there would be none of the unhappy repercussions we're now meeting because of our stubborn insistence on flying around like crazy people. If we were to put our own selves, our own health and well-being, our own happiness before anything or anyone else, we would be living entirely different lives; and benefit everyone we love, all at the same time. Most people have a very difficult time with this concept. They say it is "so selfish" to put themselves first. As if "selfish" were a bad thing. Sadly, most of us have been taught that it is (a bad thing). But I'm going to stir the pot a little more and offer this up: SELFISH IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD! Nor is it a "bad" thing. Because if you don't take care of you, you're sure not going to be able to take care of anybody else. Why do you think they tell you to put the oxygen mask over your face first? You can't help your kid if you're passed out from lack of oxygen, can you?
Same goes with Life. You've got to take a stand for YOU...and stop trying to please everybody all the time. You've got to make your own joy the number one priority in your life. And if it means that you don't get to check off all the things on your "To-Do" list in one 24 hour period, so what? Is the world going to stop spinning if you don't get it all done right now? If you even considered for one second that the answer was "yes", you, my friend, are sadly delusional. Newsflash #2: you will NEVER get it all done. And you're not supposed to. Because you are here to experience this beautiful life, not "get it done". Ever think about that?
Life is for the living.
Society can turn us into Robo-Trons in a heart beat. So many people crumble under the pressures put on them by family, friends, employers, and all the other folks who inhabit their worlds. But life is not an unending adventure. Sooner or later we're all going to die. Dems the facts, Dear. So rather than whittle away the precious time we have here, rushing around trying to beat that clock, why not just throw the stupid clock out the window...and do what matters most. Why not take the time to enjoy that house you use the majority of your income to pay for? Why not jump in the car, just because it's Wednesday, and take the kids out for burgers and ice cream cones? Or maybe tell your boss you need to leave early (I'm sure you can come up with some kind of viable reason), stop at the local florist, buy your sweetheart some flowers, and show up with a grin and a kiss? Take him/her out for dinner. For no reason at all! Geez! Can you imagine?
It doesn't matter how fast you go. You're not going to get there any sooner...if you're wrapped around a tree. So take it easy. Take it slow. Take it all in...because you cannot run from death. And there's no point in trying. Life is for the living.