Speed of Life
It was 1994. My youngest daughter was almost four and I was going through one of the most difficult times in my personal life. After picking her up from pre-school I decided to break my pattern and take a moment for her to explore the playground before rushing home. I sat quietly watching her climb the colorful equipment. I was acutely aware of my inhabited space and the recognition that I was absorbing her every movement as though I had never fully seen her play. Because of my trauma I was completely still and present in a way I had never experienced before. I knew that this would be a watershed moment I would never forget. The memory is a vivid part of me that bleeds liquid like watercolor in motion. I never wanted it to end, and I love revisiting for a refresher on what is meaningful.
Why it took a cataclysmic event of epic proportions to smash me conscious is one for the therapist’s couch and ongoing introspection. It’s not unusual for God to use pressure and pain to grab our attention when He longs to see our face in focus so that we can see His. It is impossible to love in a hurry. Pure love of every kind takes time.
You would think that after 1994 I would never be tempted to counterfeit or miss the smell of the roses that come my way, but I am human after all and decidedly type A. Although I was aware of the need to slow down and spend time in reflection and devotion to God first, then family so that I would be capable of loving well, I would fluctuate in and out of seasons of missing the mark. If I had trouble with my pace in the early 1990’s, imagine the change of speed with the birth of the internet ten years later and finally the explosion of social media come the second millennium.
My grandchildren will never know the joys of schedule free summers filled with the freedom of wandering the neighborhood until our mother’s voices filled the streets with our first, middle, and last names at dusk. There were no pings and notifications to interrupt our thoughts and actions. Phones were tethered to walls and served one purpose of communication alone. It was a simpler more basic time. Honestly, I’m not seeking to abandon my iphone or laptop, but I am on a crusade mission to discipline my response and settings for flourishing life in relationship with technology 2022. I recently read an amazing book titled THE RUTHLESS ELIMINATION OF HURRY “How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world” by John Mark Comer.
Every now and then an author publishes something that can totally transform your life if you properly apply the lessons within. This is such a publication. I am embracing his basic philosophy while tailoring some of his suggestions to fit my personal needs and desires. Like dumping my handbag to rid the unnecessary and trashy bits I am attempting to deconstruct and re-organize my habits that literally choke the life out of my living.
Human beings are not built for speed. Even a Cheetah on the Serengeti has its limits after the initial sprint. A lifestyle of rushing to and through the next project, experience, relationship, or destination is not sustainable. The overwhelming desire to acquire more, compare with others, and elevate ourselves into an impossible, disturbingly false version to be consumed is destroying the contentment we so desperately strive for and pretend to own. Just because there is progress doesn’t always mean it is good for us. The Silicon Valley inventors know the addictive nature of their creations, and many have publicly admitted the unmonitored dangers. Social media Apps are “deliberately” addictive to users Like the frog who can’t feel himself boil we don’t jump out of the pot before it’s too late. I am proclaiming to you right now that I’m not on the other side yet, but I’m on my way out and refuse to fall back. I have many healthy new goals. The following are a few of the ones I’m presently working on.
I wake up early enough for quiet time 1980’s style. I read devotionals, pray, journal, meditate, and thank God for my many blessings. I’m reading my one-year Bible again every morning and love the mix of scripture old and new. Next, I share my daily “Wordle” in texts with my husband and participating daughter before the day fully starts if I can. It’s fun to connect regularly and keep our brains mutually exercised.
I appreciate my social media and the good it can foster, but I am checking it less. I’m also posting less and feel freer as a result. I recognize the Amazon Buy Now One Click and Nordstrom’s Siren call can be a trap. My extra cash can be used more wisely and shared with those in real need. I am intentional about my moments so that those who fill the space with me have my undivided attention. I avoid multi-tasking and spreading myself too thin.
I physically slow down whenever and wherever I am able. I make full stops at stop signs, breathe at stop lights, and notice my breath in general. I welcome opportunities to train my patience in traffic, all lines, especially the grocery store, and when someone is moving at a snail’s pace in the crosswalk.
I leave my phone in another room, turn the volume off, or resist the urge to check incoming messages or notifications the moment I hear them. I manage my time better and plan less each day. I radically commit to exercise regularly and listen to books on audible or RightNow Media while on my elliptical nourishing both body and spirit. I’m at peace with what can’t be finished in 8 hours, and I am more accepting of others and myself, verbal faux pas, extra pounds, wrinkles, and all.
I remember when I used to get an audition those last several years before I retired, and I would simply dread the calls. They would usually come at dinner time and completely upend my evening and following day. I’d have to withdraw from my husband to learn lines and work on whatever was required of the scenes. I’d be okay once I was on my way to the appointment, and after it was over, I’d be psyched to get the part, which wouldn’t happen most of the time because those are the odds with age. My emotions were frequently all over the place with my adrenals on full throttle. It was a difficult way to live. A friend of mine once told me when I was complaining that it was probably a good sign I should stop. It took me years to admit that it was over and time to re-invent. I always say, “Life is change, but change ain’t easy”.
It is called joyful surrender. We surrender because letting go gives us the desired result of tranquility. The relentless need to be in control is a form of rebellion and lack of trust based in pride. The sooner we recognize the source the better for our souls. Being obsessively connected and overinformed is control. Filters and photoshop can be art or a manipulative tool of mastery. The tighter we grasp the harder it is to hold on, and eventually our white knuckles give way to the pavement below.
Turns out less truly is more. Less control, fewer things, less busyness, striving, distraction, etc. etc. equals more quality time, more contentment, more ability to honestly love the people we care about most and be loved in return. Jesus knew it was true and lived his life in obedience to his Father as an example. His life, death, and following resurrection that resulted from his surrender is our model to understand not only our purpose but our path to an eternity of peace in the here and now and the life beyond.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”
Matthew 16:25-27 NIV
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”