Slow Down, You Move Too Fast...*

April 15, 2011

And so do I. Do you find yourself constantly hurrying, thinking of the next thing before the current thing is through? Are your days so tightly scheduled—even if you make the schedule, not someone else, as in my case—that one little unexpected event topples the schedule like a row of dominoes?

Yeah, me too.

I know better. We all do. What, exactly, do we expect ourselves to accomplish in our—let’s face it—limited time? This is one reason we have road rage and supermarket rage and rage rage. My husband recently reported that he fidgeted impatiently when he found himself standing in line behind someone at the grocery store who was writing a check. I’ve done the same, and we both admitted we’re moving too fast when the extra 30 seconds it takes the cashier to process a check rather than a debit or credit card transaction causes us to tap a foot in irritation.

Take time to smell me.
My 16-year-old is still learning the ropes of driving, and has already been honked at for not pulling out of a parking lot (in front of oncoming traffic on the main road in our town) quickly enough to suit the woman behind him.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
~Lao Tzu

I don’t know about you, but this is what happens when I rush:

I break things. Dishes, fingernails, even, recently, my laptop monitor because I rushed to pick it up. I nearly broke my new mini book light when at first I couldn’t figure out how to open the battery door. (Hint: it helps to look at the clearly labeled diagram.)

I hurt myself. I bruise my leg on the open dishwasher door, or the footboard of my son’s bed. I whack my forearm on the doorknob in the hallway, or the back of my head on a fence I’m leaning through.

I hurt others. Being in a rush means my mind is often elsewhere. When this is the case, I’m not looking at or listening to the person right in front of me. (And if I’ve done this to you, let me apologize right now.)

What's your hurry?
“Rushing blinds you to the obvious. Rushing comes from fear and is designed to keep you from looking down into the canyon and seeing how tenuous your perch on the wire is,” writes Heather Sellers, in Chapter After Chapter. She’s talking specifically here about rushing while writing, but I think it’s one reason so many of us rush through our own lives. We’re afraid. Afraid of letting someone down, afraid we’re not accomplishing enough, afraid life is passing us by—when it’s really us passing life by. It will not matter how much you “accomplish” if you’re not paying full attention when you accomplish it.

In order to slow down, I have to make some hard choices. I limit my activities, even, alas, the fun ones, so that I truly experience the ones that remain. I also cut the daily to-do list in half, and I don’t compare what I can get done in a day with what my friend down the street accomplishes. I lower my standards in certain areas. I’m not always successful—but I’m working on it.

Do you find yourself rushing through your days? What have you done, or do you plan to do to slow down?

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
~Soren Kierkegaard

*Thanks for the advice, Simon and Garfunkel

You Might Also Like


  1. A very timely piece after this week. Can't believe it's Friday. Not just where did the week go so fast, but also "oh no, it's Friday and I didn't get it all done!"

    To stop my rushing, I'm going to bed early tonight and I'll try again tomorrow. Other than that, I don't have a plan.

  2. I love what Laure had to say about getting to bed early - its one of my favorite ways to take more time for myself, especially because there are few things - other than books - that I love like sleeping! I love that you mention the physical aspects of hurrying - like breaking dishes or acquiring bruises. As a clumsy person, I find that getting stressed and getting rushed is a prime way to acquire an even greater number of bumps and bruises. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Laure--Hope you got a good night's sleep and wake up refreshed! Great way to stop the hurry and regroup.

  4. "Weread"--Glad you liked the post. I'm actually a little relieved to know I'm not the only one with those bumps and bruises...

  5. I hate rush and hurry and I'm rarely in either one unless there's a real need to do so. I like a relaxed, comfortable pace.

    My husband is always in a rush. Which makes for a lot of eye rolling passed back and forth between us. He thinks I move too slow.... I think he moves too fast.

    You know the woman is always right ;-)

  6. Teresa--you and your husband sound like me and my husband. Hopefully we balance each other out. :)

  7. Kathy, I loved this post! Great writing again. I'm sure you didn't rush to write this one. :)

    Of course, I'm only now getting to read it because, with F. completing the final bit of the doctorate, our entire lives have been a rush, it seems. I hate living that way!

  8. Glad you liked it, Meredith! It just seems that no matter how hard I try, I can't keep up. Best of luck (not that he needs luck) to F. with his doctorate.