Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Slower Is Quicker

When under pressure, people tend to perform activities in a rushed manner. This usually results in sloppy work that needs to be either fixed or completely redone. Or, you know, left alone to be sub-par.

I don't mean one should take his grand old time doing something that shouldn't take long at all. I just mean, if a person were to slow down enough to have time to perform tasks properly, it's actually a lot more efficient. There would be no need to go back and re-adjust what was done. The work would get done in the most efficient yet careful manner.

On a slightly separate note, I had a discussion with a good friend some time ago about how New Yorkers do everything so quickly - as if they always have to "get somewhere."

While this issue can be debated, it definitely is true that walking quickly through life with eyes only on your destination and ignoring all in between is actually less enriching than a walk through life where you take your time to notice things and to think. Walking quickly, you may think you're getting to where you need to be in the most efficient manner, but you're also not allowing yourself to be as much a part of the world. You're kind of just racing through it. And that is a much sloppier, less careful way of living, don't you think?

Do you ever catch yourself getting like this?*

There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself -- not just sometimes, but always.

When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he'd bothered. Nothing really interested him -- least of all the things that should have.

"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school. "I can't see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February." And, since no one bothered to explain otherwise, he regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all.

As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.

"And worst of all," he continued sadly, "there's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing." He punctuated this last thought with such a deep sigh that a house sparrow singing nearby stopped and rushed home to be with his family.

Without stopping or looking up, Milo dashed past the buildings and busy shops that lined the street and in a few minutes reached home -- dashed through the lobby -- hopped onto the elevator -- two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and off again -- opened the apartment door -- rushed into his room -- flopped dejectedly into a chair, and grumbled softly, "Another long afternoon."

*Excerpted from The Phantom Tollbooth

As much as I don't think I have the habit of rushing too quickly through life, ever since that conversation, I do catch myself, at times, hurrying when I don't need to hurry or feeling like I need to be somewhere else when, really, I don't need to be anywhere at all. And each time I feel myself doing it, I take a deep breath and remind myself, "Take your time. You don't need to be anywhere except right here."

Slow down. Relax.

You don't need to be anywhere except right here.

Enjoy being right here.

1 comment:

tanwood said...

great piece! I especially love the quote from Phantom Tollbooth. was my favorite book as a kid. lots of wisdom in your writing, as I often find myself racing through life. your # 1 (tied) fan