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   slowing down - impatience  

I hurried to work the other day, for I was running late.  It doesn't happen to me often, for I usually try to get places early (though I don't often succeed--usually I get there right around the time I'm supposed to be there).  But even if I'm late, I usually don't hurry--too many bad things can happen when I'm in a hurry, and I can make mistakes that I normally wouldn't make.  When I'm driving in my car, I don't want to make mistakes.

Since it was just a one-time thing, it didn't bother me too much to be in a hurry.  And even though I was hurrying, I didn't hurry that much--I still stopped to get a snack that I knew I'd need, I didn't speed or drive recklessly, and I didn't disregard others simply because I was rushing.  But the experience did make me think quite a bit about just how much our culture values the concept of hurrying things and people.

As the world grows smaller with technological and transportation advances, we see more and more a tendency to want to have everything done yesterday.  Most of us like most of the ramifications of this tendency--we can order a book online and it can be at our home in two days in many cases.  We can get our photos back in an hour, and we can have our oil changed and our car lubed in just twenty minutes.

But the benefits do have their price.  Much of that price is in the way that people feel more pressure to perform quickly, often at the expense of quality.  Many people aren't wired for that kind of work--they're much more suited for jobs that allow them to focus on details, to take their time and do their jobs right.

I also can't help but think that some of the computer problems I've run into in the last few weeks result from the manufacturer having strict quotas, needing to crank out a certain number of units per day.

Hurrying in the workplace can lead to drastic effects on people, especially forced hurrying.  Stress levels climb when quotas are in place, and it becomes very easy to dread our jobs, knowing before we go in each day that we're going to be judged on our performance based on the number of products we produce.  And in our hurry to reach the quotas, we may let something go by that we otherwise wouldn't have, and our personal satisfaction in the job we're doing suffers.  Once the inferior product reaches the consumer, there's another round of dissatisfaction that someone else has to deal with.  All because we as a society value speed almost above all else--but can we have our speed and our satisfaction, too?

But that's hurry on the job--what about in our personal lives?  Why do so many people feel that so many things have to be done right this moment?  Why do so many people feel they need to be everywhere two minutes ago?

One of the reasons I try to get to work early is that I like to enjoy the trip to work.  If I'm driving or walking, it doesn't matter--I want to enjoy getting there.  I want to experience my surroundings -- the air, the trees, the people, just the fact of being alive.  When I take my time I get there much more relaxed, too--much more ready to start my day in a positive way.  When I hurry, I'm not relaxed at all -- I get to work feeling all the residual stress that hurrying causes, and it takes me a while before that stress leaves and allows me to do my work effectively.

When I hurry I also don't get to know a lot about people with whom I share this planet.  I don't have time for a casual chat, to take a few minutes to listen to someone's experience from yesterday (and maybe even learn something from it!), or to give someone a small piece of advice.  I have to tell everyone "Sorry--I'm in a hurry!" and take off, and I get nothing from those people, and they get nothing from me.

When I'm hurrying, my focus also shifts to time, and how much of it is going by how quickly.  I don't focus on doing the best job I can or making sure that everything's done correctly--I just focus on the process of trying to hurry things up.  We all see it and hear it time and again--when you hurry, you make mistakes, and those mistakes probably would have been avoided if you had taken your time to do the job right.

One of the most tragic results of hurrying happened in our town last year when a mother was taking her two kids to a Little League game.  She was late and in a hurry, and when she passed a car on a double yellow she hit another car head-on.  Her two children died--all because she was in a hurry and she was focusing on hurrying rather than getting somewhere safely.  It was a completely needless tragedy that happened because she thought she could arrive ten minutes late instead of twelve or thirteen minutes late.

Most of our mistakes when we hurry aren't that drastic, of course, but we can never know the far-reaching implications of things that we do poorly because we don't give them the time and attention they deserve.  It's in our control, though--we can choose not to hurry, and though we may be a bit late or later with the finished product or to get to our next destination, remember that life was meant for living, not hurrying.  Get the most out of where you are--right here, right now--and try to plan your day and activities with enough time to get done the things that need to be done.  Get there thirteen minutes late if you need to, rather than hurrying so that you can arrive ten minutes late.


Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every
telephone, stop every motor and halt all activity for an hour some day
to give people a chance to ponder for a few minutes on what it is all
about, why they are living, and what they really want.

James Truslow Adams


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We are in such haste to be doing, to be writing, to be gathering gear,
to make our voice audible a moment in the derisive silence of eternity,
that we forget one thing, of which these are but the parts—namely,
to live.  We fall in love, we drink hard, we run to and fro upon the earth
like frightened sheep.  And now you are to ask yourself if, when all is done,
you would not have been better to sit by the fire at home, and be
happy thinking.  To sit still and contemplate . . . is this not to know
both wisdom and virtue, and to dwell with happiness?

Robert Louis Stevenson

The West has made people too time-conscious, not knowing where they
are going but speeding to get there because time is short.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

I regret less the road not taken than my all-fired hurry along the road I took.

Robert Brault

Remember the great adversity of art or anything else is a hurried life.

Robert James Waller

If you are in a hurry you will never get there.

Chinese Proverb


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Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with
the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

Will Rogers

(This is a quotation that could be modified easily:

Half our life is spent trying to find the time
we have rushed through life trying to save.)

Slow down and take the time to really see.  Take a moment
to see what is going on around you right now, right where
you are.  You may be missing something wonderful.

J. Michael Thomas

If you could once make up your mind never to undertake more work
than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry. . . . and
if the instant you feel yourself growing nervous and out of breath, you
would stop and take breath, you would find this simple common-sense
rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish.

Elizabeth Prentiss


The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and
having no time.  It is, rather, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life.

Eric Hoffer



We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence
has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world
that hurries.  There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each
other.  We are all hurrying into progress.  And for all our hurrying
we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day.

Macrina Wiederkehr


The Rabbi of Berdichev saw a man
running down the street.
He asked the man, "Why are
you hurrying so?"
   "I'm rushing to find my
livelihood," the man answered.
   "And how do you know," the
rabbi asked, "that your livelihood
is running ahead of you?
Maybe it's behind you, and
all you need to do is stop running
and it will catch up to you."

traditional Chassidic Jewish story


In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek.  Natives had been
engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly
and went far.  The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey.
But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move.
For some strange reason they just sat and rested.  On inquiry as to
the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they
had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting
for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us
what that first march did for those jungle tribesmen.  The difference:  they knew
what they needed to restore life's balance; too often we do not.

Lettie Cowman


Recently I've begun to slow down and do things one at a time.  I'm
inspired--and simultaneously exasperated--by my son who, like
most six-year-olds, likes to take his time to get to where he wants to be.
It's as if he truly savors the path more than the destination.  As I prod him
to "hurry up," he slows down to relish his journey even more.

Leslie Levine


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I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a
tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to
come out.  I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was
impatient.  I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it.  I warmed it
as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes,
faster than life.  The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling
out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were
folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole
trembling body to unfold them.  Bending over it, I tried to help it with my
breath.  In vain.  It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding
of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun.  Now it was too late.
My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its
time.  It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later,
died in the palm of my hand.

That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my
conscience.  For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the
great laws of nature.  We should not hurry, we should not be
impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.

Nikos Kazantzakis
from Zorba the Greek

And to this day I wish I had lingered a week or so. . . . But we stupid
mortals, or most of us, are always in haste to reach somewhere else,
forgetting that the zest is in the journey and not in the destination.

Ralph D. Paine
Roads of Adventure


slowing down - impatience 

There's an old Italian proverb:  Qui va piano, va sano, va lentano.
That means:  "The person who goes quietly, goes with health and
goes far."  Hurrying up and using a lot of shortcuts
doesn't get us very far at all.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers