I'm the kind of person who gets up in the morning unreasonably earlier than necessary and leaves for appointments way earlier than required. All for the purpose of avoiding the majorly despised experience of: Rushing.
Not to rush the pace of how quickly I make tea and be able to enjoy it while reading or something chill like that to start my morning. To not break a sweat just getting to the car. To not curse at red lights and be an irritated aggressive driver, etc.
Yet despite so much effort to avoid rushing, the conscious attempts to move calmly through a busy lifestyle, it dawned on me that I have nonetheless spent my life rushing. Maybe not rushing out of the house or to the next appointment but I have been rushing to the next goal, the next thought, the next idea, the next plan, the next city, the next apartment, the next engagement, the next job, the next feeling. Pretty much, the next everything. Mentally and emotionally rushing to achieve the things, do the things, accomplish the things, say I did that, tried that, had that. My whole life.
Last year, like many of you, I had the to opportunity to see just how busy I had been and for myself, how little of it I was actually enjoying. I may not have been late to anything (for the most part), but I was nonetheless, rushing.
I was barely enjoying food, sometimes just kind of shoveling it in to prevent hunger before the next thing. I was barely spending quality time with loved ones and being in nature was a quick work out. Only blips of the most important things in life. I started to notice it all the time. That even with all my efforts to avoid rushing (and being everywhere way too early as a result) to stay present, enjoy the moment, I was still in a rush! I found myself in a rush to finish the errand I’m running, finish the book I’m reading, finish the class I’m taking. There seems to be an underlying pressure to have accomplished everything, big and small, already. Be at the next step, the next stage, already.
Trying to get things done while having an underlying sense of panic that there isn’t enough time, there would indeed be, not enough time. Time was flying, but I was not having fun.
I’d feel burned out before 12pm on days like that where my personal expectations were unreasonable, to put it mildly. I’d nonetheless push forward. Before I knew it, seemingly nothing was achieved and the day was nearly over.
Who is setting this standard for achievement though?? And why am I abiding?
Occasionally we get reminded that someone did not achieve a particular goal, desire or success that we famously know them for, until the age of 50, 60 or 70 etc. But that is not the message that permeates. The more seemingly interesting message is the one about the person attaining their successes whatever they may be, at a very young age as the ideal.
Why is that? Why is the emphasis on the young age something was accomplished rather than the process of it and hidden successes of it? Essentially encouraging us to rush? To compare and compete? This isn’t a competition. Yes a tennis match, basketball series or Spelling Bee is a competition. But, life isn’t a competition.
As a result of noticing this pattern of not just unrealistic, but also unhealthy expectations, I began actively changing my thoughts about time and practicing being more realistic with my goals and timeframes.
When I notice I’m starting to feel overwhelmed I tell myself, “There is enough time to do all the things I’d like to do!” Maybe not today, this week or even this month. Maybe not even this year. But in this lifetime. Yes, that does also mean assuming life isn’t short. Sure, it can be. But living life with negative ‘what if’s’ isn’t living, its fearing.
This outlook makes me feel calm and focused. As opposed to anxious and obsessed. Often I’ll even be so focused that when I finally take a break from my desired tasks of the day, I assume the day must be nearly over based on all the things I’ve accomplished, yet its barely 1:00pm. With the self assurance that I have plenty of time, time seems to stretch.
Turns out life is less short when you aren’t spending it rushing.
I’d like to officially put the day-to-day experiences, “the journey not the destination”, as the priority before the current desired goal. The most interesting part is the journey, and a long journey truly makes the destination that much more momentous. I’d like to be just as successful at not mentally rushing as I am at not physically rushing. Not lessen or alter the goals, just drop the expectations of the ‘when’. I no longer what to participate in the “busy”. Rise and grind? Is dead. It’s a distraction. Awaken and heal, is alive and needed. Right now. Awaken to purpose. Awaken to service. Awaken to humanity. Heal yourself. Heal your community. Heal the planet.
The only thing I want to see be rushed is, 9-1-1 medical emergencies/ambulances, ending; food insecurity, systemic racism and organized hate in general causing genocides and wars big and small, poverty, and abuses to the planet. Not rushing daily activities. Not even the not so pleasant ones! Certainly not rushing meals, time spent with loved ones, time spent in nature, on the phone with a friend, a yoga sesh, a book, a movie.. All the moments that make a life. No longer rushing the journey.